Report praises Hampshire police but reveals pain of cuts

A Hampshire police officer
A Hampshire police officer

Thieves smash into vehicles parked at leisure centres

  • Inspectors give force a ‘good’ rating but difficulties show money struggle
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POLICE working to save cash while offering a good service have been praised in a report.

But the impact of cuts has also been revealed, including the reduction in police officers and buildings, and an increase in the time taken to answer phones.

The scale of change in policing is unprecedented, and as a low cost force Hampshire Constabulary is at the forefront of the new and innovative approaches required to provide a quality service with far less resource

Hampshire police spokeswoman

Hampshire Constabulary was rated ‘good’ by inspectors looking at the force’s efficiency in a report released today.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham said the force is prepared to meet new financial cuts.

She said: ‘The way the force is planning to meet its longer-term financial challenges while making sure it provides an effective service for the public is outstanding.

‘The constabulary has a strong track record of making savings, good financial management and well-developed plans to achieve further savings.’

She praised a collaboration with Thames Valley Police, the use of body-worn video and the way it is matching resource with demand.

The force has saved £52.9m between March 2011 and March 2015 and is set to make another £13.3m in savings in 2016/17.

It comes as the force may face a £40m-£65m cut on top of the £80m loss since 2010.

But the report has laid bare the difficulties of saving cash while maintaining a service. It includes:

n Time taken to complete calls has increased due to crime recording improvements.

n Not enough investigators working at the weekend to meet demand.

n By 2020 the force will have reduced the buildings it owns from 65 to 15 buildings, and those leased from 25 to 10, with a £3m annual saving.

n Praise for combining back-office with county council and fire service but admits problems for workers.

n Inspectors say new model has more officers than required with surplus being used in areas of high demand.

In relation to the surplus, the force said this relates to the scalability of the new model and that its chief constable Andy Marsh has warned its service will change if there are further cuts.

The report reveals that 3,064 police officers are now at the Hampshire force, down from 3,748 in March 2010.

In March 2018 that is expected to reduce to 2,853.

Staffing numbers have also dropped from 2,424 to 1,652.

This is expected to increase to 1,803 in 2018. PCSOs have dropped from 347 to 302 but that is to jump to 333 by 2018.

Those figures are ahead of any further cuts to the force.

HMIC found the police officer cost per head of population is £91, compared to £115 nationally.

The rate for workforce cost per head is £131 compared to £165 nationally.

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘The scale of change in policing is unprecedented, and as a low cost force Hampshire Constabulary is at the forefront of the new and innovative approaches required to provide a quality service with far less resource.’