Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has hit back at claims that Herts police could face a budget shortfall of almost £20 million by 2026.

According to Trade union Unison, figures based on medium-term financial plans submitted by individual police forces show that Hertfordshire Constabulary could have £19.8 million less than they need in just three years time.

Unison believes the shortfall will put public safety at risk and confidence in the police will fall, with their Eastern regional secretary, Tim Roberts, saying: "Without more funding to plug these huge budget shortfalls, public confidence in the police will continue to fall.

"With fewer police staff to investigate cases and smaller numbers of police and community support officers patrolling local neighbourhoods, there’s a risk crime rates will climb.  

"Severe cuts to police budgets will leave many forces in the East of England unable to protect communities or bring criminals to justice.

"Policing will become that much harder and staff will be left feeling increasingly anxious about their futures.

"These figures are yet another warning sign that policing is in deep crisis. Ministers must ensure forces can afford to recruit the right staff to fulfil their duties so officers can be out on the streets keeping people and their communities safe."

PCC David Lloyd has hit back at Unison's claims, which he described as "scaremongering", as he attempted to reassure Hertfordshire residents.

"There is a large degree of scaremongering in the way these figures have been presented by Unison," he told this newspaper. 

"We have never had a shortfall in the annual budget since I took office over 10 years ago and I do not expect we will have one by 2026.

"There have not been cuts in Hertfordshire. We currently have more police officers than ever before and it is officially one of the safest places to live in England and Wales.

"The figures quoted by Unison are from a budget paper earlier this year when I set a challenge to the constabulary and my office to work on the basis that there would be no assumed increase in the council tax precept for the next two financial years up to 2025/26.

"A new finance focused Force Review board has been created which is focusing on ensuring that the Constabulary is as efficient and effective as possible.

"It is working on the principle of spending well, spending wisely and examining all options with regard to potential spending restraints.

"Work is constantly being carried out to ensure the public are getting the best value for money for their police service.

"For example, the £19.8m figure quoted by Unison is for the total potential shortfall over the next three years. That included a deficit of £7.1m for 2023/24, but this has already been addressed and exceeded with efficiencies of almost £10m identified.

"In contrast if Unison’s demand for a 17 per cent pay rise for staff were met this would cost an extra £12.6m over the rest of this year and the 2024/25 financial year."