Police warn of dire financial future

A DIRE warning of a bleak future for law and order in Suffolk has been sent to the Home Office by the county's police authority today.

Colin Adwent

A DIRE warning of a bleak future for law and order in Suffolk has been sent to the Home Office by the county's police authority today.

Cash-strapped Suffolk Constabulary is warning Minister of State for Policing, Vernon Coaker MP, the force's deteriorating financial future is unsustainable.

In a letter to Mr Coaker, chair of the police authority, Gulshan Kayembe, has requested an urgent meeting with him with a view to raising a number of pressing financial concerns.


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Mrs Kayembe said today: “Suffolk Constabulary is a low cost force, which takes pride in delivering a high quality service for the county's residents.

“However, we are faced with unprecedented financial challenges which I believe are unsustainable in the long-term.

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“In the next financial year, Suffolk will receive the lowest level of grant settlement from the Government in the country (2.5%), which in real terms equates to a cut in funding.

“Coupled with this, we are expected to make continued savings. The consequence of this is that Suffolk Constabulary has to make cuts in order to make the budget balance.”

“We cannot escape the fact that we are not on a level playing field with other similar forces and we have no reasonable explanation as to why the county is so poorly funded compared to others. I have written to Mr Coaker to request an urgent meeting to discuss this matter.”

Suffolk Police Authority meets next Monday to make a decision about the budget and Council Tax precept for 2009/2010.

Suffolk Police Authority's letter in full reads:

Dear Mr Coaker

Re: Funding Issues

We are writing to you to raise your awareness of a number of important funding issues that have presented Suffolk Police Authority (SPA) with significant financial pressures for the coming financial year and beyond. These, we believe, warrant an urgent meeting with you.

Police Grant Funding

In 2009/10, Suffolk will receive an increase in its formula grant of only 2.5%, which compares unfavourably with the national average of 2.7%, and is the lowest level of settlement in the country. Funding of 2.5% represents an immediate net reduction in real terms given the national pay awards of 2.63% for 2009/10 and pay costs accounting for 80% of our total policing costs. Based on the three-year settlement agreed for both grant and pay, this deteriorating situation will continue for future years.

The ramification of this is that Suffolk Constabulary has to make cuts in order to make the budget balance.

Suffolk Constabulary is a very low cost force, with the second lowest (of 31 forces) Shire Force cost per head of population at �152.22 (2008/09 CIPFA statistics). The Shire average is �169.69. In comparison with its Most Similar Group (MSG), Suffolk has the lowest cost per head of population of the eight forces, with the range being �152.22 to �196.28, and average �167.04.

The above statistics demonstrate that Suffolk is already working from an extremely low cost base and as a result, there is little room for cutting the budget. It also makes continued efficiency savings, as we are expected to, far more challenging to achieve.

SPA receives the fifth lowest (of 31Shire PA's) police grant per person of �98.63, with the average being �112.06 (CIPFA Police Estimates Statistics 2008-09). In comparison with its MSG, Suffolk is the second lowest grant funded per person, with the range being �95.48 to �132.12, and average �105.66.

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