Cash-strapped Avon and Somerset Constabulary has been “pushed to the limit” by budget cuts, leading chiefs to call on the Government for more funding this week.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens said it would be an “understatement” to describe it as a “testing time” for the force, after seven years of cuts that mean officers have an “unsustainable” workload.
She and Chief Constable Andy Marsh have sent a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Policing and Fire Minister Nick Hurd requesting more funding.
Budget cuts have forced Avon and Somerset police to make over £60million in savings since 2010, and it must still save a further £20million more by 2022 – but PCC Mounstevens believes more investment is needed.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “To say it’s been testing times for policing I feel would be a real understatement. Between the multiple terror attacks across the country to ensuring the continued safety of the local communities of Avon and Somerset, like other public services, policing is being pushed to its limit.”
“In Avon and Somerset since 2010, we’ve had to find £60 million savings already and we’ve still yet to find another £20 million savings by 2021/22. While the Chief Constable and I continue to do all we can to protect frontline policing, we feel strongly any additional funding for counter terrorism and armed policing should not come from further reducing budgets for local policing. We have written to all our local MPs and the Home Secretary to say that policing needs investment to meet these current threats.”
The letter requesting extra capital investment and armed response officers was shared with the Police and Crime Panel at a meeting on Tuesday (June 27th).
The Police and Crime Panel supported the PCC and Chief Constable, and are also planning to write, to share their concerns about the current position of policing in Avon and Somerset following the terror attacks across Manchester and London over the past three months.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “The Commissioner and I are doing all we can to protect the frontline in Avon and Somerset, obviously seven years of cuts has meant that our workforce has reduced. I am forced to ask my officers, PCSOs, staff and volunteers, who are already working hard, to do even more; extending their shifts, adding to their tasks and increasing their workload and this is not sustainable in the long term.”
“We’re asking the government to look at the funding available for counter terrorism, armed and local policing. We need to be strengthening our neighbourhood policing teams, focusing on prevention and working closely with our local residents.”
“The attacks in London and Manchester have shown the incredible bravery and the pivotal role our police service plays at the very frontline of our country’s security.”
While welcoming further reform and opportunities to collaborate, the letter highlights the challenging nature of policing – more complex criminality, advances in technology, victim vulnerability, reducing public services and greater public scrutiny.
You can read the letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP here.