HAMPSHIRE’S chief constable is ‘increasingly confident’ he can protect front line policing as the force fights multi-million pound spending cuts.
Alex Marshall said the £314.096m budget approved for Hampshire Constabulary today means the £20.234m funding black hole in next year’s finances can be filled.
Hampshire Police Authority members unanimously backed the budget, which comes after the government announced a 5.14 per cent spending cut for the next financial year.
In total the force will receive £8.488m less from the government, including an extra £2.505m grant it will receive after members agreed to freeze council tax.
The move means that the average householder living in a band D property in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will continue to pay £146.25 a year for policing in the next year.
Mr Marshall said: ‘One of the reasons we are finding that we can make these savings for the next year is that we started [work] a very long time ago in anticipation that there would be bad financial times in the next few years.
‘Beyond this first year I now believe we have a credible four-year plan to ensure we can make all the savings we need over the Comprehensive Spending Review period and still maintain good quality policing across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.’
He later added: ‘I am increasingly confident that we can find the savings over four years and protect the number of people on local front line duties.’
Already at least 161 police officer posts are being axed to help save cash, including 82 vacant police officer posts and 79 supervisory roles including superintendents and chief superintendents.
Other savings will come from measures including not filling staff posts, reducing overtime and a £4m under spend from last year.
John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman said: ‘I am reassured by the forward planning and consideration that has gone into the budget and the fact we are still one of a tiny amount of forces still recruiting, but we are nonetheless over the next four years going to reduce police officer numbers significantly. Whilst I support the chief constable in his desire to protect the front line we can’t ignore the critical work that goes on behind the scenes. This is the start of deep and damaging cuts.’
Jacqui Rayment, Hampshire Police Authority chairwoman, said: ‘This is really only the first phase of a long road but I one am sure, when we get to the end of the change programme, will be right for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.’
Adrian Collett, Hampshire Police Authority finance committee chairman, said: ‘It’s extraordinarily painful but we are coping and I am optimistic that the change can happen and we can still achieve excellent policing throughout Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.’