COLUMN: Less money for force is challenging

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It’s the start of a new year and our financial housekeeping has begun in earnest.

We’ve had time to reflect on the successes and improvements made during the year and as we approach next year’s budget we’ve been busy looking at our resources to decide how and where we need to build and sustain our performance.

By now we’ve become used to achieving quality with little in the way of funding.

We’ve even come to expect it. But it doesn’t get any easier and although our savings requirement this year at £5.5m is less than half of what it was last year, it remains a tall order. And ultimately there are now far fewer opportunities to squeeze.

Since 2010/11, we’ve seen a 19 per cent decrease in central government funding for policing. The homework on plugging this year’s gap began some time ago and we begin the year with some sense of security thanks to our robust savings plans.

These will see overtime reduced, procurement economies and, regrettably, the loss of some officer numbers. This will not affect the planned recruitment of 64 new police officers which is already underway and the addition of 200 new PCSOs, of which most posts have been filled.

Sustaining performance is challenging with less money and this is likely to mean local people will pay slightly more for policing next year due to the ongoing funding cuts from the Government. One of the hardest jobs in this role is managing public expectation on what is possible and realistic with the resources we have.

During the recent public meeting at Selston, it was quite clear how strong local people feel about tackling the problems which impact on their lives. While high visibility in our communities is everyone’s goal, it became abundantly clear that residents in Selston do not wish to go ahead with plans to pay a private security firm to deliver this.

Nottinghamshire Police Chief Superintendent Mark Holland reassured those present that crime is falling in the area and plans are in hand to tackle antisocial behaviour.

There was also an acceptance among the attendees that the lack of funding for policing was out of the Force’s hands, which was reassuring. However, the general consensus was that a private security firm wasn’t the way forward. The matter will now be discussed by the parish council at its next meeting and I hope that the strong concerns aired will be listened to.

While the finer details may change, what is clear is that policing in 2017-18 will continue to involve greater prioritisation focusing on threat, risk and harm. That said, we remain in a strong position and our integrated partnership working and investment in new technology will help us to fulfil our responsibilities in the most valuable, effective and efficient way.

With all this in mind, I’m looking forward to working with our new Chief Constable Craig Guilford who I believe will bring a fresh vision to community safety and the enthusiasm to maintain the good work to date. I would also like to thank temporary Chief Constable Sue Fish for suspending her retirement to provide some much- needed continuity while the chief constable recruitment process was ongoing.

Sue’s commitment to policing has been unwavering and I was pleased to see her receive well-deserved recognition for her outstanding work to tackle misogynist criminality and incidents recently and wish her well as she takes her well-earned retirement.