Hampshire police bosses tell of 'risk' as force 'underfunded by a quarter'

UNFAIR funding from government is forcing police to deal with a near-£45m shortfall creating 'risk', top officials have said.

Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 11:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 12:12 pm
Chief constable Olivia Pinkney and Hampshire police and crime commissioner Michael Lane

At a joint briefing today in Winchester, Hampshire police's chief constable Olivia Pinkney and crime commissioner Michael Lane revealed they have written to government demanding more cash as they say they receive a quarter less funding than needed.

They fear the force will be at the brink of a £13m cliff edge by 2021 if its government grant does not increase.

Around £80m cuts have already been implemented between 2010 and 2016, with an additional £23m coming in between 2018 and 2021.

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Bosses have worked out how to save £10m of this through changing records management systems and boosting 'productivity' but have no plans to save the £13m.

This already takes into account Mr Lane getting the extra £5 a year in council tax he is asking the public to pay.

Both Mrs Pinkney and Mr Lane said their letter to policing minister Brandon Lewis is not asking for 'special pleading' against the other 43 forces.

But the letter also warns that rural policing could be cut to put more officers into tackling child sexual exploitation and terrorism.

Mr Lane said: 'The issue becomes do we have enough funding to be correctly configured.

'HMIC's recent report put us in the top two or three for value for money.

'There's a point at which that value for money becomes too much risk for that large constabulary which we are and a large community which we are.

'We both believe that we need to be very clear on that.'

In recent years the force has axed the number of police stations, shifted its headquarters from Winchester to Eastleigh, reduced the number of staff and officers by 1,000 and shared back-office functions with the county council and fire service. It was revealed today another £1m was being ploughed into the back-office system, H3.

Speaking to The News about where the £10m identified savings will come from, Mrs Pinkney said: 'We've done the big ticket items, we've done that.

'It's a number of thing, it's things like improving the data inefficiencies for staff so they're able to input data sets.

'We'll have some through the custody estate is being modernised.

'It's a real focus on the productivity.'

Mr Lane said a 'fairer funding formula' would mitigate 'greater risk'.

He added: 'Alongside that, the national economic environment says we will always be under pressure to be more efficient as well as sustaining operational effectiveness.

'For us it's about understanding what modern operational effective policing is about, that's for the chief constable to advise me and for me to lobby about.'

Both Mrs Pinkney and Mr Lane point to an independent report by HMIC that says the force receives a £44.8m shortfall.

That equates to around a quarter of the £200m grant the force receives.

Mr Lane added: 'At the moment we are inhibited and the risk is enhanced because that funding is not fair.'

Their letter to Mr Lewis says: 'Local funding and further efficiency cannot meet the £23m funding shortfall Hampshire Constabulary faces by 2021.

'Without an increase in national funding, the risk to the public will exceed acceptable levels.'

The letter says funding of £13m is the minimum required but they want the £44.8m to pursue their 'public protection, partnership and innovation agenda'.

John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman, said: 'If the government aim was to push us until we break, congratulations they have succeeded.

'What they need to do is recognised that it's not an empty that from the chief constable.

'If the funding formula is not made fairer for forces there will be worse consequences than there have been already.'