COMMENT: It's hard to justify £2m on a spending review

There's an old saying that you have to spend money to save money.

But how much should you have to spend?

It has emerged that Hampshire police has spent more than £2m on business consultants over the past two years as it struggles to balance the books. It is looking to save £24.75m in the next four years.

The ‘comprehensive review of all expenditure’ was carried out by accountancy giants Deloitte, and Worcestershire-based firm Process Evolution.

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And when part of the outcome has been to axe 160 posts, it’s hardly a surprise that people are angry as a result.

Terry Lowe, the director of force development, has defended the outlay as ‘a significant return on investment,’ because it is ‘expert advice’ that has given them a better return than if they had tried to keep the process in-house.

And he argues that using consultants meant they could limit the number of police taken off operational duties.

However, even the size of the force development department has sparked the ire of the Hampshire Police Federation, which represents the rank-and-file officers.

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Federation chairman John Apter says of the force development department that it ‘seems to have more people working in it than are patrolling the streets.’

This is a worrying trend.

At a time when there seem to be fewer and fewer officers actually out on the street, potential resources being diverted into looking at ways to save money and hard cash going to accountancy firms in such large amounts is a very bitter pill to swallow.

Policing is changing, and it has to adapt over time.

But how much change is being forced by a lack of money, and how much of it is driven by operational and technological changes?