Norfolk police braced for more budget cuts

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With police forces across the country bracing themselves for news of more budget cuts, Norfolk chiefs have said it will be tough.

The force is expecting a five per cent cut in the funding it receives from central government next year but it could be more. Announcements are expected any day.

Stephen Bett, Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said reserves have been built up to protect frontline police officer posts as much as possible from predicted cuts up to 2017/18, but after that the blow will be more obvious. There is already a recruitment freeze on PCSOs.

He said: “At the end of the day we have diminishing resources coming from central government and, as 83 per cent of our budget is manpower, we will have to get rid of people because we wont be able to meet our budget deficit in any other way.

“We will have to do things very much differently. Policing of today will not be the same as policing in the future.

“If the Government continues cutting resources like they are to the police service in general, I am afraid the numbers of bobbies on the beat will go down and so will the number of PCSOs countrywide. It’s a pretty bleak picture for the future.”

Lincolnshire’s chief constable warned this week that his force could not continue to provide an acceptable level of policing if cuts continues.

Mr Bett said: “The situation in Lincolnshire is diabolical and it’s the same in Suffolk. We are better off but it’s going to be tough there’s no doubt about it.

“We still don’t know how much it is going to hurt because we don’t know how much is going to be cut.”

Norfolk had £148 million from Government in 2014/15 and Mr Bett said the expectation is that will fall to around £142 million for the year from April.

This year, the force increased the amount it asked the public to contribute to budgets via council tax by almost two per cent. Another rise may well be consulted upon this year, but forces have not yet been told if and by how much the Government will allow council tax hikes.

Auditors have praised Norfolk’s force for the way it has managed cuts to date and sought to reduce costs through collaboration and workforce transformation.