Essex: Watchdog finds police force ‘on track’ to achieve £47.3m savings
PUBLISHED: 09:36 22 July 2014 | UPDATED: 09:48 22 July 2014
Essex Police has responded well to the financial challenge in spite of Government funding cuts, a watchdog has found.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that Essex Police is on track to achieve its required savings of £47.3million and has plans in place to deliver all of the £8.9m savings needed this year.
HMIC also found that the force had made an assessment of future savings requirements, helping it to make plans through to 2017.
Despite making savings, the watchdog said the force had also been protecting frontline crime-fighting roles and continuing to deliver lower overall crime in comparison with others in England and Wales.
HMIC’s Valuing the Police programme report has tracked how forces have made savings following the Government’s spending review in October 2010.
Zoë Billingham, from HMIC for the Eastern region, said: “Essex Police is on track to achieve its required savings of £47.3m over this spending review period.
“It also has detailed plans to achieve most of the required savings required for 2015/16 and is finalising work to close the remaining gap.
“Overall, the force understands the issues facing it and has a well-managed change programme in place to ensure that it implements savings required while making improvements to the way policing is provided locally.
“Sophisticated demand analysis and implementation of a new IT system provide the force with opportunities in the coming year to work more efficiently and effectively.
“Along with its continued commitment to collaboration with Kent Police this is likely to form the basis of an affordable way of delivering policing across the county in the future. HMIC is reassured by the level of detail underpinning the force’s savings plans for the next two years.
“The force has identified opportunities to make further efficiencies while protecting, as far as it can, its crime-fighting capacity in its endeavour to keep the communities in Essex safe.
“The long-term financial position of the force will be greatly improved if it can develop effective policing structures which are affordable within the force’s projected budget without using reserves.”
Essex Police has welcomed the report from HMIC.
Chief Superintendent Andy Prophet, who leads the force change programme, said: “The force has undertaken a huge amount of work to make sure we are spending money to the best effect. Everyone is absolutely clear though, even with shrinking budgets and reducing workforce numbers, our priority continues to be providing the best possible services for the people of Essex.
“The way they are responding to that challenge is outstanding. The force is currently designing a new shift pattern for a number of front-line, uniformed policing teams which will help keep the right number of officers on duty, in the right place, at the right time.
“The change programme is more than delivering savings, as challenging as that is. The force continues to develop ambitious plans to modernise our buildings – to ensure they are fit for policing the next 40 years, to make ever better use of technology – freeing officers to spend more time on the streets, and to transform the way we provide non-emergency services to the public.”