Plans Set Out To Manage Major Policing Cuts

We should hear in the next few days just how big budget cuts will be to Devon and Cornwall police

It's as our police crime commisioner Tony Hogg prepares for the worst

The force is preparing for cuts of 54 million pounds but Tony Hogg says we can't rule out the chancellor taking them even further

With such an extreme budget reduction, the police crime commissioner has said we will have to completely rethink the delivery of policing services in Devon and Cornwall.

If the cuts go ahead as planned, the PCC also plans to find out whether council tax payers would be willing to pay more for policing here.

The commissioner also plans to maintain an emphasis on local policing and presence but will review this decision in the light of the budget settlement that will be known in December. 

''It would be foolish to take decisions at this time that cannot be reversed'' said Mr Hogg 

''Planning for staffing reductions in local policing and all other areas now needs to commence. Plans can be finalised once the final budget position is known. In addition, we have only assumed the bottom end of the Chancellor's stated budget reductions - we cannot rule out that he will seek even more than 25% national reductions in policing.''

The PCC also indicated that he intends to seek the views of council tax payers on whether they would be willing to pay more for policing in Devon and Cornwall. 

''Over the next couple of months I will, supported by the Chief Constable, set out what a £54m budget reduction would mean for policing in Devon and Cornwall'' said Mr Hogg ''I think that if these reductions come to pass that policing services will change in ways that the public will not want to accept. I will want to test whether they might be willing to increase the policing element of the council tax, which currently averages £165 per year, to a higher level to retain some important services.''

This consultation is expected to commence at the beginning of November and run for up to 8 weeks. At this time, decisions are still to be made regarding the detail of the consultation, including proposed tax increase levels.

Tony Hogg went on to say;  

''At this time, there is much that we do not know, but it is right that we start to plan so that important actions can be taken at the appropriate times. The OPCC's budget prediction is based on two key factors: Firstly, that the police service budget is reduced by 25% nationally, an assumption made following signals given by the Chancellor in July ahead of his autumn statement. In addition, the OPCC is assuming that the revised Government funding formula will mean a further significant loss to Devon and Cornwall. These two factors together mean that the PCC has now revised his savings target from £29m to £54m. Our budget assumptions are based on the best available information that we have at this time'' said Mr Hogg 

''We expect to hear in the next few days whether the Government is intending to revise its original funding formula allocation proposals. I hope that our campaign with the fantastic support of the people of Devon and Cornwall will have persuaded Ministers that change must happen but I am very nervous of this outcome. In addition, we have only assumed the bottom end of the Chancellor's stated budget reductions and we cannot rule out that he will seek even more than 25% national reductions in policing.''

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