‘If we want extra money we’ve got to change’, says transformation board chair

Policing needs to “bite the bullet” and show it can make further savings if it wants to successfully ask for more money this autumn, according to the chair of the Police Reform and Transformation Board.

Sep 6, 2017

Policing needs to “bite the bullet” and show it can make further savings if it wants to successfully ask for more money this autumn, according to the chair of the Police Reform and Transformation Board. Paddy Tipping believes forces will have to either let areas like neighbourhood policing erode even more or work together to persuade the Government that they urgently need more resources. The Nottinghamshire police and crime commissioner said unless things change, policing will lose another 2,500 jobs next year and will continue to face “untenable” annual savings requirements of £200 million. He added that mounting financial pressures may cause some smaller forces to become “unviable” in the next few years. Mr Tipping told the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales conference: “I don’t think this is going to be easy because we have a history of 43 police forces and 43 police and crime commissioners determined to do their own things in their own communities. “What I think we have got to do is in a sense bite the bullet. If we want extra money we’ve got to change. We’ve got to be able to demonstrate that we are using our resources as wisely as possible. I’m not confident at the moment that we can do that. “My challenge to you… is let’s have a discussion about how we do that – what do we need to do to make that change? How far can we co-operate?” The 2015 spending review gave policing a flat cash settlement that the Government claims protected budgets but others have argued led to real-terms funding cuts. Mr Tipping has been preparing a case for this year’s budget and next week will tell the Treasury that policing needs real terms growth instead of flat cash. Although the final sum he will ask for has not been finalised it is expected to be at least several hundred million pounds. He believes that Policing Minister Nick Hurd, who recently hinted extra funding may be found next year, could prove a valuable partner in the campaign for more resources – but warned forces they will have to show they are using current resources wisely. This may involve taking a more of a collaborative approach to the Police Transformation Fund (PTF). On Monday (September 4) the Home Office announced how another £60 million of PTF money will be provided for a series of innovative force projects across the country. The conference heard the PTF could prove more effective if forces jointly decide on the five most important projects so they can apply for larger sums. Even more efficiencies may emerge as the Police Reform and Transformation Board grows, as its available budget may reach £650 million by 2019/20. Mr Tipping also suggested that significant savings could be found by collaborating on uniform procurement, but recognised that some forces may object out of a desire to maintain their local identities. He added that forces should consider closer working with local authorities. “The thing that struck me working with the police was that operationally we can do things dead quick, but in terms of developing policy and strategy, because there are so many players it becomes difficult,” he said. “The challenge is straightforward. Do we accept that agenda? Working together we can take the challenge and we can make the change. “Please join in the debate that’s before us, because the situation going forward is untenable.”

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