Avon and Somerset police protest waste of taxpayers’ money

July 10, 2012 1:37 PM

Senior policemen in Avon and Somerset are getting upset at what they see is an unfair shift of taxpayers’ money from their region to areas where police authorities are stockpiling cash.

‘This is about an unfair tax fund transfer, in which residents in this area are paying for other parts of the country to be policed,’ claims Avon and Somerset Police Authority chairman Dr Peter Heffer. ‘The government assesses that we need £20m to meet our needs but instead it is given away to other parts of the country with less need. It is about giving it to those areas that need it. This complex transfer of our taxes means that while areas like ours miss out, other police authorities are building up their cash reserves.’

‘Twenty million pounds would pay for nearly 500 extra police officers every year,’ continued Heffer. ‘This would make a huge difference to this area. Particularly because this is not about cuts, this is about using the money allocated for policing fairly. It is about giving it to those areas that need it and Avon and Somerset is deemed to need it by the government's own assessment.’

In response, the police authority and police federation in Avon and Somerset have set up an online petition to highlight the unfair funding, which runs until 30 July.

A recent HM Inspectorate Constabulary report said that government required cuts would see 5,800 fewer front-line officers across forces in England and Wales. It also showed that these police forces had saved £768m in an austerity drive to the end of March 2012 by reducing their overall workforces by 17,600 posts, cutting their spending on goods and services by around £185m and using over £28m of their reserves. By the end of March 2015, they hope to reduce their workforces by a further 32,400 and to cut their spending on goods and services by around £474m.

‘Just under 20% of police budgets are spent on goods and services such as IT, facilities management, uniform and equipment,’ says the report. ‘Forces plan to make 24% of their savings from these non-pay costs across the spending review period.’ But there is a warning that some authorities may be unfairly penalised because they had already started making cutbacks before the spending review and yet have to slim down further.

Generally, however, the report is happy to see—as is the general public—that cuts are being made mainly in back office staff. ‘Our review indicates that this is happening,’ it says, ‘on average, forces plan to reduce frontline workforce numbers by 6% and non-frontline workforce numbers by 33% between March 2010 and March 2015; and over the same period, they will cut frontline officer numbers by 6%, and non-frontline officer numbers by 42%.’Senior policemen in Avon and Somerset are getting upset at what they see is an unfair shift of taxpayers’ money from their region to areas where police authorities are stockpiling cash.

‘This is about an unfair tax fund transfer, in which residents in this area are paying for other parts of the country to be policed,’ claims Avon and Somerset Police Authority chairman Dr Peter Heffer. ‘The government assesses that we need £20m to meet our needs but instead it is given away to other parts of the country with less need. It is about giving it to those areas that need it. This complex transfer of our taxes means that while areas like ours miss out, other police authorities are building up their cash reserves.’

‘Twenty million pounds would pay for nearly 500 extra police officers every year,’ continued Heffer. ‘This would make a huge difference to this area. Particularly because this is not about cuts, this is about using the money allocated for policing fairly. It is about giving it to those areas that need it and Avon and Somerset is deemed to need it by the government's own assessment.’

In response, the police authority and police federation in Avon and Somerset have set up an online petition to highlight the unfair funding, which runs until 30 July.

A recent HM Inspectorate Constabulary report said that government required cuts would see 5,800 fewer front-line officers across forces in England and Wales. It also showed that these police forces had saved £768m in an austerity drive to the end of March 2012 by reducing their overall workforces by 17,600 posts, cutting their spending on goods and services by around £185m and using over £28m of their reserves. By the end of March 2015, they hope to reduce their workforces by a further 32,400 and to cut their spending on goods and services by around £474m.

‘Just under 20% of police budgets are spent on goods and services such as IT, facilities management, uniform and equipment,’ says the report. ‘Forces plan to make 24% of their savings from these non-pay costs across the spending review period.’ But there is a warning that some authorities may be unfairly penalised because they had already started making cutbacks before the spending review and yet have to slim down further.

Generally, however, the report is happy to see—as is the general public—that cuts are being made mainly in back office staff. ‘Our review indicates that this is happening,’ it says, ‘on average, forces plan to reduce frontline workforce numbers by 6% and non-frontline workforce numbers by 33% between March 2010 and March 2015; and over the same period, they will cut frontline officer numbers by 6%, and non-frontline officer numbers by 42%.’

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