Norfolk police are making “outstanding” progress to plug the funding gap

Emma Knights emma.knights@archant.co.uk
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
8:59 AM

Norfolk Constabulary is said to have made “outstanding” progress in its plans to meet a funding gap of more than £20m, according to a report published today.

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Some key points made in the new report

Norfolk:

• is on track to achieve savings of £20.3m and has a well established collaboration with Suffolk Constabulary;

• has seen considerably fewer reductions in workforce numbers than most forces, as well as protecting the front line;

• has reduced crime and improved victim satisfaction levels significantly more than most forces.

Norfolk in numbers versus national average:

• Planned change in police officer numbers 2010/11-2014/15: Norfolk -5pc (England and Wales -11pc)

• Planned change in total workforce numbers 2010/11-2014/15: -9pc (-14pc)

• Planned proportion of police officers on the front line 2014/15 vs 2010/11 (percentage points): +1.1 (+3)

• Planned proportion of total workforce on the front line 2014/15 vs 2010/11 (percentage points): +4.1 (+3.7)

• Police officer cost per head of population 2013/14: £90.50 (£117.70)

• Workforce cost per head of population 2013/14: £141.70 (£168.10)

• Change in recorded crime 2010/11-2013/14: -11pc (-14pc)

• Victim satisfaction 2013/14: 88.3pc (85.2pc)

The Valuing the Police report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found Norfolk police was “determined to continue to provide a high quality policing service to the public,” and it was “planning for the long-term, taking the necessary steps today, so it is ready to meet future funding challenges in this ongoing era of austerity”.

It was one of only five police forces described as “outstanding” overall in terms of providing value for money.

Zoë Billingham, HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Eastern Region, said: “The force has performed exceptionally well in the first three years of the spending review. It has achieved the required savings while maintaining police officer numbers and improving performance. This can be attributed in part to its achievements through its established collaboration with the force’s preferred policing partner, Suffolk Constabulary.

“Norfolk Constabulary’s success is also due to its considerable understanding of the demand it faces and the way it analyses and assesses this to decide how to provide policing well.”

She said Norfolk was well placed to meet future financial challenges.

The report follows last month’s publication of Norfolk police’s plans to meet the government savings. The plan will see about 350 posts cut over four years in a bid to shield the frontline and maximise police officer numbers. The number of police officers will fall and PCSO posts will be reduced by about 45pc, but Norfolk will continue to recruit new officers and invest in additional resources.

Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “I am pleased that all the hard work of my staff involved in delivering our change plans has been recognised.”

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett said: “It is heartening to hear the inspectors say the force has performed exceptionally well and read praise for the collaboration work with Suffolk, which I am keen to progress.”

However, for Suffolk Constabulary the watchdog raised fears for the future of neighbourhood policing and the constabulary’s ability to cope with major crimes. The force faces slashing £16.4m from its budget by 2018, having already saved millions.

Although HMIC acknowledges the constabulary is making good progress towards balancing its books, it also raises the spectre of the potential problems in policing the county due to the cutbacks.

It also highlighted its concern over the decision not to merge Norfolk and Suffolk’s control rooms.

Ms Billingham said: “Continuing to apply the cost reductions in the same way in the next four years as they’ve been applied in these four years is not an option, and we’re very clear that the viability of some forces could be placed in jeopardy in three to five years’ time.

“By that we mean they would have to cut too hard and too deep into neighbourhood policing and they may not be able to guarantee or maintain the service that we’re currently seeing to the public.”

The full reports can be found at www.hmic.gov.uk

What do you think? Email edpletters@archant.co.uk, including your full contact details.

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