Police fear cuts will affect performance

Norfolk police chiefs have demanded an urgent meeting with ministers over funding cuts which they say could undermine the force's ability to tackle major crime and terrorism.

Norfolk police chiefs have demanded an urgent meeting with ministers over funding cuts which they say could undermine the force's ability to tackle major crime and terrorism.

The county's police authority has already written to home secretary Jacqui Smith about the “difficult and disappointing” grant settlement which it says falls well behind the rising costs of policing Norfolk. The grant for the next three years will increase by 2.5pc - and the force says its share of council tax will have to rise by significantly above 5pc to make up for the shortfall.

Suffolk Police Authority has also warned that a 9pc increase in its share of council tax will be needed next year as its funding falls behind many urban forces across the country.

The problem in Norfolk is exacerbated by the expected withdrawal of £750,000 currently used to protect Bacton gas terminal from the threat of terrorism.


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As revealed by the EDP, the Home Office plans to cut this funding after armed Ministry of Defence patrols were introduced at the terminal but Norfolk police says these patrols alone are not enough.

In a letter to Miss Smith, chief constable Ian McPherson and authority chairman Stephen Bett say: “This situation gives Norfolk police considerable cause for concern.

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“While we acknowledge the recent additional presence of MOD police, the response that they are able to provide to any terrorist incident is inevitably limited and there will be a significant requirement for Norfolk police to ensure, alongside the MOD police, that the site is adequately protected.”

On top of the known terrorist threat to Bacton, Norfolk police also need to improve their “protective services” identified by HM Chief Inspectorate of Constabularies as a priority.

This covers the force's ability to investigation major crime, serious and organised offences, counter terrorism and extremism, emergency planning and other key areas.

The letter states that the authority is mindful of government pressure to keep council tax increases to a minimum, but adds: “The level of the provisional settlement and the potential loss of grant for Bacton will create a funding equation which will be very difficult to reconcile within this potential constraint.”

Mr McPherson and Mr Bett are expected to meet policing minister Tony McNulty early in the new year. The authority will meet in February to determine how much it will need to take from council tax.

Suffolk police is also looking at ways it can keep its council tax precept down. But chief constable Simon Ash said: “Suffolk has received the lowest settlement of all forces nationally. We are going to have the challenge of some of the forces we are compared with being better funded than us.”

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