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16 July 2010
The UK Treasury has instructed government departments to prepare scenarios for cuts of up to 40 per cent which could mean a job loss of 60,000 police officers across the UK.
Dr Tim Brain recently retired chief constable of Gloucestershire and Association of Chief Police Officers lead on Finance, now Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Cardiff, has explained in an article for Jane’s Police Review what the scale of the cuts facing the service might actually be.
Dr Brain, who is working with Cardiff’s Universities’ Police Science Institute, explained the cuts are predicted to fall at around 25 per cent but could be as high as 40 per cent. He said: "Obviously, we don’t yet know, and nor will we know for certain until the results of the spending reviews in the autumn, but in the meantime there are some clues. First, the police service is not on the protected list. Second, the new Home Secretary Theresa May has warned that the police can expect to face its fair share of cuts and third, there has specifically been no guarantee to maintain personnel numbers but it would appear we are looking at job losses in the police forces of 11,500 – 17,000 if the police are to suffer the government’s average cuts. This will mean fewer personnel for patrol, response and investigation duties."
Dr Brain added that if, as the Institute of Fiscal Studies projected before the election, public spending to the proportion of GDP was reduced to the proportion it occupied in 2003/04, then it could be expected that police funding levels would be similarly reduced. In this scenario the equivalent of around 30,000 fulltime time equivalent (FTE) posts would be lost by 2015. The IFS post-budget analysis projected a restoration of public spending to levels last seen in 1997/98. In this scenario then around the equivalent of 60,000 FTE posts would be lost.
The Home Secretary has already said she expects the ‘front line’ to be protected. However, Dr Brain said in his article it was difficult to see how this can be achieved with even the minimum numbers of loss projected.
These projections have assumed that spending on equipment, goods, services and supplies, etc, will decrease in proportion to the total budget, but it can be anticipated that the government will expect greater savings, or efficiencies, to be made in these areas in order to mitigate the effect on police numbers.
Dr Brain concluded for Jane’s Police Review: "Of course, the figures here are projections based on estimates and assumptions in what is a highly unpredictable environment. The government is in control of the rules and small percentage changes here or there when magnified by billions make a lot of difference. Furthermore, the government plans for most of the cuts to fall in 2014/15, so there’s plenty of time to change the detail. However, these projections at least provide a starting point for calculating reductions and can be refined as more information becomes available. The big question is, are the leaders of the service, its representatives and the public ready to accept reductions on such a scale?"
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