An analysis of police financial forecasts has revealed that police forces in the East of England could face a budget shortfall of over £110 million by 2026, potentially putting public safety at risk, says UNISON today.
The data, based on medium-term financial plans submitted by individual police forces to their local police and crime panels, reveals drastic cuts to the spending planned.
The six forces in UNISON Eastern — Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk — share back-room functions with Kent as part of a seven force strategic partnership. Combined, the forces face a shortfall of almost £110m by 2026. Police forces across England and Wales could face a £721m shortfall over the same period.
While forecasts aren’t set in stone, police budgets look likely to be several hundred million pounds short of what’s needed, says UNISON.
As a result, tackling and preventing crimes such as anti-social behaviour, burglaries, violent assaults, organised crime and fraud could be compromised, says the union.
Many vital staff roles are already being kept vacant or have been cut altogether to save money, adds UNISON.
Cutting police staff jobs will also severely undermine the government’s pledge to put more police on the streets, UNISON warns.
This is because newly recruited officers will need to do the work once done by police staff whose jobs have now been cut, the union says.
UNISON Eastern regional secretary Tim Roberts said: “Without more funding to plug these huge budget shortfalls, public confidence in the police will continue to fall.
“With fewer police staff to investigate cases and smaller numbers of police and community support officers patrolling local neighbourhoods, there’s a risk crime rates will climb.
“Severe cuts to police budgets will leave many forces in the East of England unable to protect communities or bring criminals to justice.
“Policing will become that much harder and staff will be left feeling increasingly anxious about their futures.
“These figures are yet another warning sign that policing is in deep crisis. Ministers must ensure forces can afford to recruit the right staff to fulfil their duties so officers can be out on the streets keeping people and their communities safe.”
Eastern forces budget shortfall
You can see the full list of forces in England and Wales here.