Suffolk police faces 7% budget cut

SUFFOLK Constabulary faces slashing 7% off its budget in just three years, according to its own figures.

The county’s police authority yesterday set a budget of �113.5 million for 2010/11.

The challenging nature of the crushing fiscal pressure is illustrated in the savings which the force estimates it will have to make over the next two years.

Next year’s budget is set against savings of �2m which have to be made this year, plus cuts of �2.4m next year and an estimated reduction of �3.4m in 2011/12, according to the authority.

At yesterday’s meeting, members also agreed an increase in the police’s part of the council tax of 3%, maintaining the Constabulary’s position as one of the lowest cost forces in the country.

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Police authority chairman Gulshan Kayembe said that, as in previous years, members had agreed the budget and level of council tax precept while considering factors including local people’s views.

“I believe we have got the balance right,” said Mrs Kayembe. “The financial situation for the constabulary is currently very difficult. We have to work under increased pressure to realise large efficiency savings, which this year are set at �2.4 million.

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“This is alongside the fact that we have once again received the lowest level of government grant.”

A key part of the budget setting process involves targeting funds towards priority policing areas, decided through public consultation and detailed research.

Mrs Kayembe added: “Through robust financial planning and consideration of public concerns, we aim to continue work in key areas that we know are priorities to our communities.

“Following extensive public consultation, operational service priorities for this year’s budget have been agreed which focus on anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and violent crime, among others.”

While balancing force priorities and efficiency pressures, a key factor in the authority’s decision is to avoid making large increases to Suffolk residents’ council tax contribution.

This year’s increase will result in a rise of less than �5 for the year for a Band D property compared with last year.

Suffolk’s Chief Constable Simon Ash said: “The year ahead will be financially challenging, but we are committed to providing the best possible policing to our communities, to listen to and act upon their concerns and to increase their confidence in their police force” he said.

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