Lincolnshire’s Chief Constable says making £3.2m savings will mean tough choices

Lincolnshire Police
Lincolnshire Police

Following the Government’s announcement in December of the funding settlement for the force, and the final budget approval at the Police and Crime Panel meeting on Friday, Chief Constable Bill Skelly said the Force will begin implementing the savings needed to balance the budget.

Chief Constable Bill Skelly said: “In the Force Management Statement I published in September 2018 I predicted that we would need to make some tough choices.
“Friday’s meeting has effectively confirmed that we will need to make £3.2m of savings during the financial year to March 2020 and whilst this is not as bad as the £6.9m we had predicted, it will still mean across the board reductions and consequently a reduction in the service we are capable of providing.
The headline savings are:
• Core police officer numbers will reduce by 40 to 1,060 (this will be achieved by only recruiting up to 1,060 when replacing those who resign or retire);
• Police Community Support officers will need to be reduced to 85 from the current 118 (but it is hoped that some of those reductions will be achieved by PCSOs being selected and trained to be officers and fill some of the officer vacancies as they arise during the year and referred to above);
• Support staff employed by the force will be cut by 10%, which will amount to approximately 30 posts. The roles that will go are still being considered;
• Strategic partner to the force, G4S will be making reductions which amount to £1m;
• Various other initiatives such as reducing overtime, the vehicle fleet and scrutinising other key support functions for further savings will be ongoing.
Mr Skelly said that the decision to increase the police precept will help reduce the level of cuts they would have had to make in the forthcoming financial year.
He said: “We have made significant savings over several years and are working hard to increase our efficiency by investing in technology to provide a safe policing service to Lincolnshire.
“We are continuing to press for increased investment in the next government spending review to address the disadvantages of a historically unfair funding formula and to allow us to continue to provide the best service to the people of Lincolnshire.”
Chair of Lincolnshire Police Federation, Jon Hassall, said: “I repeat my comment after the Force Management Statement was published last year, that the taxpayer in Lincolnshire does not get a fair deal and police officers are breaking because of the strain on them.
“The prospect of losing 40 officers from our already stretched front line is certainly going to undermine our ability to continue to deliver a quality service to the people of Lincolnshire. We will need to be completely candid about what we will no longer be able to do for them”.
Secretary of Unison for Lincolnshire Police staff, Debbie Parker, said the Force has always been generally supportive of the need for appropriate, but not excessive, numbers of police staff including PCSOs and has always been appreciative of their immense value to the organisation.
She said: “With the necessity to apply £3.2m in cuts it will seriously undermine the ability of the Force to provide the current high standards our staff achieve. Any lessening of services currently provided would seriously impact on the capability of the Force which will have been brought about through no fault of its own.
Director of G4S Services Delivery for Lincolnshire Police, Fiona Davies, added: “We are working on delivering a £1m saving for the Force, but it will inevitably result in a reduction of the services we are able to provide.
“There are 18 services delivered include staffing custody suites, the force control room, HR, IT and the management of the force fleet, through providing innovative solutions and streamlined processes which have allowed officers to spend more time on serving the public of Lincolnshire.
“We are proud to continue to work in partnership with Lincolnshire Police and over the past seven years, we have saved Lincolnshire Police on average more than £5 million per year.”
Mr Skelly added that although the budget is having to be reduced, the Chief Officer team remain committed to continuing to invest in key elements to support the workforce in future.
He concluded: “That includes providing access to the latest and very best technology including mobile data, alternative fuel vehicles and continuing to upgrade ICT in general.
“The commitment to staff wellbeing will continue, which includes fitting out workplace gyms and developing screening and other services, some of which is funded from the capital budget and the police transformation fund and does not affect the revenue budget which funds the costs for people.”