Chief Constable Chris Haward on Lincolnshire Police’s budget and areas identified for savings
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Having recently received news of Lincolnshire Police’s funding settlement, Chief Constable Chris Haward has outlined how Lincolnshire Police approaches its budgeting, describing some of the expected financial pressures in coming years, and proposed areas for necessary savings.
The latest grant settlement awarded the force a small uplift but means that the force’s budget for the current year had an underlying gap of £3.4m, balanced by using reserves. This underlying gap grows to circa £10m for the next three years due to inflationary and service pressures.
The force had already planned to make recurrent savings of £3m per annum to bridge the gap but the situation has now become more challenging. This will be partially addressed by using reserves in the next two years but means that further savings must be identified to close the gap.
Chief Constable Chris Haward said: “The budget settlement we have just received has been far more negative than anticipated and having spent recent weeks collectively and urgently working through the implications, it is clear that the use of our reserves isn’t enough to close the gap we face.
"We remain the lowest funded force in the UK with the lowest officers and staff per head of population. Despite this our teams do an incredible job to make sure Lincolnshire is a safe place for everyone who lives, works, or visits here. We do everything we can to deploy our people where they are most needed based on threat, risk, and harm to the public.
"Thanks to in-depth analysis that concluded recently, in which we examined every single area of the organisation, we have never before had a better understanding of our people, our demand, where we need investment, and where we can start to look at making changes. All of this is based on making the county safe for everyone. We are lean, but we are effective in what we deliver.
"Given the size of the funding gap we now face, we have had to make urgent and critical decisions, which mean it is unavoidable that some front-line services will be affected. None of these decisions come lightly and we have considered every option across all parts of the force. It is clear, from this work and based on the funding we now know we have, that the current PCSO model is not sustainable within the forecasted budget.
"Whilst this is not something I want to do, we will have to reduce our PCSO numbers from 91 to 50 and reconfigure the operating model to ensure we still have an effective response prioritising neighbourhoods at highest risk of threat and harm. We know how important neighbourhood policing is, which is why we plan to retain as many of our PCSOs as possible, but know this change will cause concern to some people.
"PCSOs will continue to support community policing alongside regular officers who remain dedicated to their respective neighbourhoods. This is a decision that has been made only recently, having been left no other option when looking at other areas and departments and considering what is possible within the budget and what we most need in terms of threat, risk and harm in order to keep people in this county safe.
"Please bear with us and when we can tell you more, we will make sure to get that information over to you.”