Thursday, 12 November 2015

An uncertain future for policing in East Devon: "the proposed cuts for the police service would severely impact on Police Community Support Officers and other front line staff must be resisted."

Concerns are increasing nationally about what cuts in police services will mean:
Futures Forum: An uncertain future for policing: "It is the fact that places such as genteel Frinton no longer feel they can rely on the state."

The news is that authorities across Devon are preparing for more difficult times:
Cuts means fewer police to control Torbay's harbourside louts, warns South Devon chief | Torquay Herald Express
Difficult times ahead, warns local police chief | Tavistock Times Gazette

These concerns are being expressed in East Devon:
Futures Forum: An uncertain future for policing in Sidmouth and Devon

At last month's District Council's scrutiny committee meeting, the Cabinet was urged to convey these concerns:

Crime and Disorder Update 

The Chairman welcomed Gerry Moore, Anti Social Behaviour and Community Safety Coordinator to the meeting. The Committee had received the latest newsletter from the East and Mid Devon Community Safety Partnership, which highlighted: 

 The successful Annual Conference 
 Stop Abuse for Everyone (SAFE) initiative needing volunteers to complement their existing services for victims of domestic abuse 
 Tackling anti-social behaviour across both East and Mid Devon 
 Avoiding scams, raising awareness by working with local police neighbourhood teams through delivery of advice packs; 
 Protecting property at home with alarmed padlocks and engraving; 
 Work with young people on online safety. 

Local Action Groups (LAGs) continued to meet regularly and tackle issues at a local level. 

Domestic Violence Awareness Week takes place in November, and leaflets were heading out to various outlets covering where anyone can get help. White ribbons were also being worn to signify Males against Domestic Violence. In response to a question about domestic violence against men, the committee were informed that whilst the majority of domestic violence was against women, men are not ignored and there are help sources for all individuals, with resources available both at a national and local level for both sexes. 

Partnership working would continue to be impacted as cuts to budgets continued. There had already been significant changes for a number of agencies because of staff resourcing, and the planned cuts for the police service would only add to that problem. 

Councillor Tom Wright, as the Council representative on the Police and Crime Panel, outlined the issues currently facing the Police Commissioner. These included continued efforts to improve the 101 telephone service for reporting low level crime, and the Fair Funding campaign looking to retain a fair level of funding to the police force for Devon and 3 Scrutiny Committee 15 October 2015 Cornwall. The force was planning on having to find 25% reduction in budget, but could be facing a 40% reduction. 

Recent announcements on cuts were discussed in terms of impact on delivery of the police service, including closure of police stations and the impact a dramatic budget subsidy would have on the deployment of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). A 25% budget reduction may lead to a 60% reduction in the number of PCSOs; 40% budget reduction may lead to a complete cut of PCSOs. 
The Chairman echoed the sentiments of the committee in his praise of the work both of Gerry Moore and the PCSOs in the District. The loss of PCSOs would have a dramatic impact on the District, with a local example given of the quality of the PCSO at Ottery St Mary. 

That Cabinet recommends to Council that it conveys to the Home Secretary that the proposed cuts for the police service would severely impact on Police Community Support Officers and other front line staff must be resisted; and raise the issue with the local Members of Parliament. 

Minutes of a Meeting of the Scrutiny Committee - 15 October 2015

Cabinet duly agreed last week:
Minutes of the meeting of Cabinet - 4 November 2015 

And today this press release was posted:

East Devon raises concern with Home Secretary over cuts to police funding

When this content has been created

12 November 2015

Wide support for policing from councillors

East Devon District Council is raising concerns with the Home Secretary about the implications of cuts to the Devon and Cornwall police budget which could lead to the loss of hundreds of officers.

Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner Tony Hogg has warned that jobs could be lost and further police stations closed as he tackles a £39m budget reduction for 2015/16.

Cllr Paul DivianiLeader of East Devon District Council, has made strong representations to the Home Secretary Theresa May and Policing Minister Mike Penning. The Council will also be calling on its local MPs Neil ParishHugo Swire and Mel Stride for support following a recommendation from its Scrutiny Committee.

Earlier this week, the Government announced it was delaying a review of the funding formula which means that the budget position for all police forces will not be confirmed until December 2016. Initial figures from the Home Office suggested that the funding formula would have taken an additional £15m of funding from Devon and Cornwall which would have meant a £54m budget cut.

Mr Hogg said that while the announcement was welcome, the force was still faced with making challenging budget cuts of £39m which would lead to many aspects of policing altering significantly and services provided by the police currently may not be carried out in the future. 

Cllr Roger Giles, Chairman of the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, said that there was wide support from councillors for the police service at a recent meeting.

He said: "The Committee were most concerned about the impact of the proposed budget cuts particularly on Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and other front line staff. We understand that a 25% budget reduction may lead to a 60% reduction in the number of PCSOs and a 40% budget reduction may lead to a complete cut of PCSOs. This just cannot be allowed to happen. Our residents and businesses need a properly resourced police service."

12 November 2015 - East Devon raises concern with Home Secretary over cuts to police funding - East Devon

It seems that central government has indeed listened:

Police funding changes postponed

Nov 12, 2015 By Christian Benson | World

Mr Penning admitted the proposed changes were "never indicative" of police budgets under the formula and the changes for 2016/17 will now be delayed.

The Police Minister was accused of presiding over an "omnishambles" after apologising for errors made in the Government's controversial reform of the police funding formula. "We recognise this has caused a great deal of concern to police forces around the country", Penning told MPs.

Mike Penning said the Government "regrets" the mistake and apologised to MPs and the 43 police forces in England and Wales. Mr Penning was summoned to the Commons to explain why the Government got its figures wrong when it sent cash-strapped police forces a letter explaining how they would be affected by a new system for funding police.

The Yorkshire Post revealed last week that a group of police and crime commissioners (PCCs), including North Yorkshire's, were threatening to take legal action against the Government over funding reforms that could see millions of pounds a year cut from their forces' budgets.

Other PCCs - including the Conservative overseeing David Cameron's local force - condemned the situation as "deeply flawed" and dubbed it a "crazy roller coaster ride".

He was unavailable for comment after Mr Penning's admission, but Mr Smith said an independent panel should review future funding. Mr. Penning said the 2016-17 police funding will now be based on existing unreformed formula.

Home Affairs Select Committee chair Keith Vaz called the situation a "shambles" and said the Home Office must establish an independent expert panel. "To call it a shambles would be charitable", he added.

While Durham commissioner Ron Hogg said he was baffled as to how to his area could be policed with a 12.5 per cent smaller budget, his Northumbria counterpart, Vera Baird, said the error had left her force facing a disastrous impact with just 12 working days until the Spending Review.

The mistake centred on "socio-economic indicators" used in the formula to indicate the extent of the poorer population in each force - an important factor because poor areas experience disproportionate levels of crime.

Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg wrote to the Home Office to raise concerns over its figures, and was told by Mary Calam, director general of the Home Office's crime and policing group, that an "older classification" of data had been used.

Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary, said: "Mike Penning's announcement is good news for the Constabulary and goes to show that if we get our act together and have the evidence we can take on people when they make mistakes".

Mr Bercow added: "It (the Home Office) was entitled to its point of view but I think the House would concur that it suffered from the quite material disadvantage of being wrong".

He said: "When did you know that? We told the Home Office that we could not reconcile the data that they had used two weeks ago but it is only now that they have admitted that we were right".

Mr Penning replied: "I was informed on Friday. We will make sure as we go forward we have a fair process".

"I am sorry that I may have put the cat amongst the pigeons this weekend and I know that many colleagues have been concerned at the prospect of having to lose an extra 250 police officers. Officials have clearly been providing ministers with incorrect information and advice and they have been basing vital decisions for policing on that advice".

Lancashire's PCC Clive Grunshaw, who has also been challenging the figures, said: "The whole process has been badly handled and that is something I have been saying all along".

Police funding changes postponed
Devon and Cornwall police commissioner performs U-turn over council tax rise proposal | Plymouth Herald

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