The Chancellor’s announcement means the policing budget for Lancashire could be reduced by a further £11m. – meaning the force will have potentially lost a staggering £74m. from its overall budget between the May 2010 elections and 2016.
These cuts are on an unprecedented scale, and have now reached a stage where policing is being put at risk.
It is clear this Government refuses to wake up and realise there is a tipping point, a point at which continued cuts do not just become about making savings, but about fundamentally redesigning the police force.
There seems to be an assumption no matter how much is cut from budgets, services will adapt and continue to perform at the same level. That is no longer the case.
This latest round of cuts puts policing in the county under threat, and undermines the work the Constabulary does to protect its residents.
The call to save what could potentially be another £11m. comes at a time when, here in Lancashire, we have already been cut to the bone. And it means we have now reached a point where consideration will have to be given to whether police functions previously seen as vital – such as the mounted branch or the dog unit – have to be cut.
People in Lancashire rightly expect the police to deliver them a high quality service which keeps them safe from harm. But with fewer officers and fewer resources, it may be for this Government to explain to communities why the service they are receiving from their force has had to change.
We have already closed front counters, shut Fleetwood Custody Office, sold off rural police stations, reshaped our Neighbourhood Policing Teams and changed how we respond to incidents, as well as streamlining and redefining functions, to save the millions already asked of us.
Despite all these cuts, the hard work of officers and staff in Lancashire means crime has still continued to fall. But, if another £11m. comes out of the budget, it will be an almost impossible task for that high level of performance to continue.
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner