Police chiefs say cuts will affect services

POLICE chiefs are reeling from “a blow” they say will affect services after the scale of Government cuts to constabularies was announced.

The heads of the Herts and Beds police authorities have said that services will be affected in the two counties after the Government slashed �millions off their budgets.

Alongside forces across the country, the constabularies have been told of the extent of cuts in funding as the new coalition government targets the public sector to combat the �6b deficit between tax and spending.

The police minister Nick Herbert said last week that the cuts will mean a reduction of �2m in the Herts budget and �1.1m in Beds this year - around one per cent of the total budget of each force.

“This is a disappointing blow,” Peter Conniff, chairman of the Beds Police Authority, said, “and comes on top of the �3.5m that we lose as a result of the funding formula.

“We have been working hard to prepare for funding challenges and we are now in discussions with the chief constable to consider our options, but it is hard to see how this will not mean an impact on the delivery of services.”

Chairman of the Herts Police Authority, Stuart Nagler, said the impact will not only be felt now, but also in coming years.

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“It will add to the already growing challenges that we are facing in the future,” he said. “A cut of �2m in our current base grant will have a knock-on effect for future settlements equivalent to a further shortfall of �6m over the next three years. This is on top of the �11m to �22m shortfall that was already predicted.

“The authority will now be working with the constabulary over the next few weeks to rework this year’s budget figures and assess what the implications will be for policing in the county. We remain committed to high standards of policing in the county and will do all we can to minimise any impact.”

Sharon Taylor, Stevenage Borough Council leader, who stood as the Labour candidate for the town’s parliamentary seat at the general election, said she was concerned that the cuts would mean improvements made in the area would be halted or even reversed.

“The police have worked very hard in Herts. In Stevenage we are beginning to notice the difference particularly at neighbourhood level – making people safer and feel safer in their homes. But this relies on a certain level of resources.

“I’m very worried about the PCSOs. My concern is that they will take the first hit when the funding starts to bite.”

The cuts are part of a �125m reduction in policing budgets across the country.

A further �10m will be cut from counter-terrorism policing in the current year although it is not yet clear how this will affect funding in the two counties.

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