Residents will not see a huge influx of police officers on the streets of Lancashire – despite plans to recruit an extra 50 to “plug the gaps” left by crippling budget cuts.
Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has tabled plans to increase the police budget precept for 2013/14 by two per cent – equivalent to £3 a year for an average band D property – so the force can take on an extra 50 officers.
In his first budget as commissioner, he has chosen to propose the increase to council tax bills instead of accepting a one per cent Government grant to freeze the precept – a move he says would have left the force needing to make more savings and cut more officers..
But he told the Evening Post that with £6m savings still to make and another £20m to be delivered by 2016/17, communities should not expect a huge increase in beat bobbies.
“They are there to plug the gaps in some ways,” he said.
“There is a reduction of over 500 police officers in Lancashire, clearly that will cause a stretch on the front line.
“I’m not pretending this will mean people will see a huge influx of police officers on the beat because going forward we have further savings to find.”
The Comprehensive Spending Review of 2010 left Lancashire Police having to make £43m of cuts, £31m of which have been found.
Police stations have been closed and more than 500 officer posts lost.
The force has an additional £6m to find before the additional £20m cuts just announced are looked at.
But Mr Grunshaw was not drawn on whether that will mean more police officer losses.
He said a “review and restructure” of the force would continue.
And he has also been in discussion with other Police and Crime Commissioners about “shared service arrangements”.
He added: “We have been through a number of organisational reviews to identify savings. We will continue with those.”
The Commissioner said his budget proposals for the coming year would prioritise protecting frontline services.
He will present his proposed budget report to the Police and Crime Panel on Tuesday, January 29, which will then review it and reveal their findings by February 8.
The 50 new officers will be spread across the county, Mr Grunshaw said.
“If we had accepted the (Government) grant the base budget for the police would not have increased and that means you are storing up problems for next year and years going forward.
“To date £31m has been saved, we have got to find a further £6m in the present financial year. If we had accepted the freeze grant, those savings would have been greater.
“Because the finance we are talking about is predominantly jobs we would have been talking about losing even more police officer numbers and PCSOs.”
He added: “I pledged to protect the frontline and this budget allows me to do that by recruiting an extra 50 frontline police officers to ensure resilience
“I committed to keep the policing precept as low as possible and while I recognise that this will cost households a few pounds extra, I know from recent consultations that Lancashire residents will support this modest increase.”