Lancashire police are set to take the battle to fight cuts that will have a ‘catastrophic’ impact on the county to Westminster.
Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw issued a rally cry to the 16 MPs across Lancashire to help him fight cuts that will leave the force with a 52 per cent reduction of the workforce it had in 2010 by 2020.
It puts people’s jobs at risk but more importantly it puts people’s lives at risk.Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw
After £74 million cuts the force’s budget is the Home Office is now trying to slash a further £24.8 million after a review into the funding formula.
With the Comprehensive Spending Review in November also expected to wipe an estimated £41 million to £64 million off the budget as the government continues to implement austerity cuts Mr Grunshaw made a passionate plea to ministers to overturn the decision that will see them lose all of their neighbourhood policing teams, close every public enquiry desk, the vast majority of their dedicated road policing officers, all of their support units, the mounted branch, police dogs, a dramatic reduction to the force major investigation team, see them lose a significant proportion of the serious organised crime unit, the team that manage dangerous and sexual offenders as well as a number of specialist officers.
Even with all of that the force would have to find a further £32 million cuts.
Mr Grunshaw will be meeting with a host of local MPs to discuss how dangerous these cuts will be in Westminster on Tuesday.
He said: “It puts people’s jobs at risk but more importantly it puts people’s lives at risk.
“At the moment what we need to do is go down to Westminster speak with the MPs and the ministers to let them know how serious the situation is here in Lancashire involving the budget to policing.
“I’m not convinced that they understand the decisions that they are taking and I don’t think they really know how severe this impact is going to be.
“In the past policing in Lancashire has been really successful, really efficient but for whatever reason they feel that they can make further cuts to the force in Lancashire the challenge we face now is to make them see how dangerous this situation is and to make them overturn it as soon as possible.
“The fight is around the changes to the funding formula and getting some money put back into Lancashire.
“If the cuts as proposed by this government go ahead then annihilation is not too strong a word for what we face here.”
The police are in the process of recruiting 120 new officers but with many retiring every year, Grunshaw said this may be the last recruitment drive for many years.
And Ch Con Steve Finnigan says the proposals are ‘crazy’ and says that many rural areas will suffer.
He said: “We have ended up - apart from the Metropolitan police - the hardest hit force in the country.
“Some of these proposals would be absolutely catastrophic for people in Lancashire.
“I don’t know why this is happening. At the moment the Home Office are saying that they cannot share the data that they have put into this new approach to the funding formula.
“It could mean £160 million off a £300 million budget in policing where 87% of our budget is in people.
“The numbers of people we will be losing is phenomenal.
“You’ve got to put your resources to risk.
“We have four big conurbations, Burnley, Blackburn, the City of Preston and Lancaster as well as Blackpool,
“That will inevitable mean in some other areas where demand isn’t so high then they are going to see fewer police officers, fewer police staff, PCSO’s we would probably have to get rid of all of them.”
Policing minister Mike Penning previously said: “Police reform is working and crime has fallen by more than a quarter since 2010, according to the independent crime survey for England and Wales.
“However, if we want policing in this country to be the best it can be, then we must reform further, and that includes putting police funding on a long-term, sustainable footing.”