Concerns raised as Hampshire police face fresh funding gap

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FEARS have been raised over the impact of further policing cuts as Hampshire’s force faces having to find up to £35m extra savings.

Hampshire Constabulary must already save up to £55m by April 2015.

Now Hampshire Police Authority fears the force may have to plug a new financial black hole in 2016/17.

The organisation predicts that a fresh spending review could mean the force has to find between £3m and £35m extra.

Chairman of Hampshire Police Federation John Apter said: ‘The reality is further cuts are inevitable but we don’t yet know to what degree they will impact.

‘Like other police forces Hampshire has gone and is going through tremendous financial pain.

‘My fear is that any further cuts will inevitably impact on core policing functions.’

Already a raft of cost-cutting steps have been taken including merging services with Thames Valley, axing 900 posts, shutting stations and front desks.

But front line officers have so far been protected and crime has continued to fall.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall said: ‘I’m concentrating on the current Comprehensive Spending Review period which has more than two years left.

‘I have got very good plans to preserve our local visible policing and make the cuts we need to make within that review.

‘It’s very difficult – it’s very tough. Until the government announces the result of the review we don’t know what our funding is going to be for that period.

‘My concerns are that it will become increasingly difficult to find these new and innovative ways of getting more for less. My job is to keep trying and to keep the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight safe and that is what I will do.’

Mr Marshall last night praised a unanimous decision by HPA to approve plans for sharing services with the county council and the fire service.

The organisations could save £4m a year by sharing human resources, ICT, procurement, health and wellbeing, finance and payroll.

The plan will not be signed off until a police and crime commissioner to replace the authority is elected.