Police watchdog, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), has issued a report stating that only one in four of the police authorities in England and Wales are prepared for the budget cuts introduced by George Osborne last week.
The Home Office is to cut the police budget by 20%over the next four years. The Police Federation has predicted that this will result in 20,000 job losses.
HMIC has conducted a review of 22 out of the 43 police authorities in England and Wales. Out of the 22, only one in four has viable strategies in place to effectively manage the budget cuts and ensure that frontline policing is not affected.
Part of the problem is that the police authorities are facing an additional challenge. The Government is going ahead with their plans to scrap the police authorities and replace them with elected commissioners. The elections are scheduled to take place in 2012.
The police authorities therefore have two years to manage the budget cuts in addition to preparing for a smooth handover to the new police commissioners.
The police authority report shows that the majority of the police authorities are ill-equipped to manage both challenges.
The police authorities with ‘careful and clear’ strategies are Gwent, Hertfordshire, West Mercia, and Surrey.
Rob Garnham, Chairman of the Association of Police Authorities, said ‘we recognise that along with the rest of the public sector we face significant financial challenges’. However he is confident that the police authorities are ready to deal with the difficult financial environment.
Chief constables find out their individual allocation of the police budget next month. It is only after this that true estimates of job losses can be made.