In the spending review, the Chancellor announced that spending on the police in England and Wales would be cut by up to 20 per cent by 2014-15.
Police authorities, which hold the purse strings, will hear how much they’ll lose by the end the year.
Police authorities are funded by central government and locally-raised taxes – how much they receive from each varies from one authority to another.
The Association of Chief Police Officers expects authorities most heavily reliant on central government for cash to face the biggest cuts. So, who are they?
The police authorities that stand to lose the most are those in some of Britain’s biggest cities.
The West Midlands receives 86 per cent of its funding from government, more than any other police authority in the country. Based on the spending review they’re planning for 20 per cent cuts – that means saving £123m over four years.
They’re planning on axing 2,200 jobs – that’s 6 per cent of the workface – which includes 1,000 police officers.
The Government has said police authorities can raise more from council tax to limit cuts. But Chief Constable Chris Sims thinks this isn’t realistic given the other cuts councils face. “It would take a 7 per cent increase in precept (local tax) to replace 1 per cent in grant. I don’t foresee that that is going to happen in the climate that we’re in.”
Merseyside is dependent on central government for 82 per cent of its funding. It’s planning £77m worth of cuts over the next four years.
It has agreed savings of £13m – 4 per cent of its annual budget – which means a reduction of 160 police officers and 84 police staff. The authority is now working on more cuts .
Greater Manchester is in a similar position, receiving 81 per cent of its funding from Westminster. It needs to make savings of £134m and predicts a 23 per cent fall in staff.
Chief Constable Peter Fahy told the police authority: “What is clear is that over the four-year period there will be a reduction in the size of the force. This is currently estimated at around 2,950 posts. Although there will be a significant reduction in the size of the middle and back offices, it is clear that over the four year period there will also need to be a reduction in frontline police officer numbers.”
CutsCheck asked the Home Office if it accepted that forces largely reliant on government grants would be worst hit. They told us: “The overall budget cuts for the police are taken into account locally and nationally. This is an issue that needs to be debated in parliament and MPs will vote on what the final settlement will be.”
Police authorities in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester are already cutting thousands of jobs. Assuming ACPO’s prediction proves accurate, they should be preparing for deeper cuts very soon.