Spending Review- Police Governance in a time of Austerity

Published on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 01:00
Written by Zoe Billingham

Following the recent Comprehensive Spending Review many Police Forces across the country are facing deep cuts to frontline services. Days after the Review, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary released a report addressing how prepared Police Authorities are when facing impending cuts. Here, Zoe Billingham, Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary, talks to GovToday Editor, Scott Buckler, about the Report Police Governance in Austerity and what lies ahead for Police Authorities in the next 18 months.



What were the key findings of the report?

The report was about identifying whether or not Police Authorities were performing to their best possible standards and to identify what we believe are the most important things to concentrate on over the next 18 months. The report showed that seven authorities were making positive headway and performing well. We found in those seven there were four that were doing all the things necessary in ensuring strategic direction for policing in their area and ensuring value for money. What we were trying to achieve with the report was to see how Police authorities were equipped for the tough times ahead. It is hoped the report will aid Police authorities in what will be a tough 18 months until they are replaced by police and crime commissioners. It is apparent that nearly all authorities need to identify reductions in police spend whilst protecting the front line services.

What impact do you believe the spending review will have on Police forces ?

Police Authorities have known for some time that there are going to be reductions, so most have begun to make reductions. The HMIC recently conducted a report called Valuing the Police, which identified that significant re- engineering of services both back and frontline now might help release up to 12% in savings for authorities in the future, however to achieve much more than this will be difficult without cutting into the workforce. The current financial support will reduce by 20% in the next four years; this will effect Police authorities differently depending on how they are funded and their size.

What was the biggest concern you found when conducting the report?

We found numerous trends amongst the Police authorities we inspected and several trends in those  who were performing adequately. Of these 15 authorities performing adequately we found many were just focusing on short term savings and not long term efficiency. They were better at holding their Forces to account for local policing outcomes, but they were less able to rationalise the less complex areas of policing. They were not utilising all the information at their disposal neither were they challenging Forces to reduce spending and create efficiency.

How concerned are police authorities regarding impending cuts?

Obviously all  Police Authorities are looking at how to reduce spending without taking away the frontline services that many communities rely on, however they are very aware of the need to make effective cuts.  Police Authorities have a crucial role to play over the next 18 months as it is their job to decide what the priorities should be for the Police and to secure value for money.

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