Hampshire’s Chief Constable has announced that budget cuts will mean a potential 1400 jobs could be shed to save money. Meanwhile the constabulary has millions of pounds tied up in a festering industrial unit on a Chandlers Ford trading estate.
In a statement issued yesterday Chief Constable Alex Marshall predicted an anticipated shortfall in funding of up to £70 million would result in redundancies among front line officers and PCSO’s – along with backroom staff.
Up to one in five jobs are expected to go.
This is a far cry from the position two years ago when the police authority paid nearly £10 million for warehouse premises on Electron Way to convert into a new HQ which would have brought 500 jobs to Eastleigh.
However today, as Eastleigh News show in photos which should shock every Hampshire taxpayer, behind padlocked gates and ‘keep out’ signs the constabulary’s empty property is slowly falling into disrepair engulfed in weeds and graffiti.
Earlier this year the Chief Constable released figures showing a drop in crime of up to 16% and celebrated a reduction in anti social behaviour levels as well as an increase in both detection rates and public confidence – now he warns that specialist units and squads may be disbanded and that the service will be run with minimum staffing levels.
Read the Chief’s full statement here:
The reason I became a police officer was to protect people – especially those least able to protect themselves – from bullies and criminals. I wanted to catch criminals and be part of the reassuring, visible and accessible policing presence that most people wish to see where they live. Sir Robert Peel described the role of policing much better than I ever could and his principles from 1829 still hold good. He rightly said that the best measure of policing was the absence of crime. Our recent record on reducing crime has been excellent and it continues to fall this year.
In considering the huge financial challenge set by the coalition government’s mini budget and the results of the Comprehensive Spending Review towards the end of the year, I have kept these fundamentals of policing at the centre of my thoughts.
Rather than think about how we operate now and apply cuts to existing departments and OCUs, I believe it is better to build the best police force we can with the £250million budget we believe we will have when our current funding is reduced by between £60m and £70m over the next four years.
Most of our funding is rightly spent on employing the 6,700 people who work for the constabulary. If all of the savings come from staff costs then a 25 per cent cut will mean that we can afford to employ about 5,300 people. We will have fewer police officers, PCSOs and police staff.
We have already identified most of the £23m savings we think we need for next year and this has involved some tough choices. For the year from April 2012 we believe we will need to find about a further £16m of budget reductions and we will not be able to do that unless we reshape the force. The new set-up will then have to deliver the final two years’ of cuts, which could well be another £28m in total. The other reason for having the ‘new’ organisation in place by April 2012 is that I do not want us prioritising budget management and restructuring over policing for a minute longer than necessary. Our aim remains to deliver excellent policing across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and I want to reach a point as soon as possible where we are not distracted from this.
I know all our staff join the constabulary to do the best job they can and that the changes ahead will be difficult for everyone. Over the next few years people who leave will rarely be replaced, and along with early retirements and voluntary redundancies there will be some redundancies. This uncertainty is unsettling and there is a human story and personal consequence every time someone leaves. To get to the position where uncertainty is removed we must work to resolve the funding issue.
Our strategic intent is that the policing model from April 2012 onwards will be built from the ground up, based on the needs and expectations of the people we serve. Every part of the force will have locally based PCSOs, police officers, Special constables and police staff who are visible, accessible and responsive to local need. These teams will solve local problems, catch criminals and answer emergency calls. Above this level will be a Local Policing Area (LPA) based around, but not bound by, the district, county and unitary council boundaries.
Each LPA will have a police leader whose rank will relate to the level of risk and complexity faced. These police leaders will run policing through neighbourhood officers, response officers and investigators. The leader will be answerable to local people for the quality of service delivered and held to account internally by a chief superintendent as area commander. The essential support needed to deliver policing will be provided by the force – not owned by an LPA – and the only budget allocated will be for overtime and to support local operational tasking.
There will be no specialist teams or squads unless the area commander agrees that a compelling operational need exists. Where such teams are formed they will come from the existing LPA resources. The mix of uniformed police officers, PCSOs, police detectives and police staff investigators will depend on local risk/demand and be decided with the LPA commander, recognising the wider force requirements.
There will be three area commanders, each overseeing a number of LPAs.
These areas will house the operational functions necessary to protect the public and manage the most dangerous people in society. Crimes of such seriousness or complexity that cannot be dealt with on an LPA will be investigated at area level. The only budget allocated to areas will be for the funding of priority cross-LPA operations. A senior HR adviser and media adviser will assist the area commander. All other essential support will be provided by the force.
Custody and criminal justice will be delivered as force functions but will be located in line with operational need. Resource management, performance and analysis, crime incident management, intelligence, crime policy, forensics, fleet management, building maintenance and other vital support to local policing will be force-run functions. These areas will be as lean as possible and located where it is efficient to do so.
At force level we will have the minimum number of people necessary to provide the functions that span all LPAs. As a general rule, all force-wide functions will look to collaborate to ensure that we retain capability, create resilience but reduce costs. We will explore two or more force delivery models for the key operational areas such as major crime, serious and organised crime, Special Branch, armed response, roads policing, dogs and air support. Other operational support functions such as PSD, authorities, information management, information security, contact management, training and intelligence will be or are being reviewed to establish the most efficient way of delivering them. Some areas will be suitable for collaboration, others for redesigning to the minimum model necessary.
There will be a review of HR, finance, estates, legal services and all other current HQ functions.
To ensure that we achieve the most cost-effective way of working we will look at whether the function is necessary, and if it is what is the best way to deliver it. In asking these questions we will look at collaboration or outsourcing. Our preferred collaboration partner will be Thames Valley Police because, in commercial terms, when combined we achieve a scale bettered only by West Midlands and the Metropolitan Police. We have no plans or intention to merge with Thames Valley, and the current government does not support the merger of forces. Where collaborating with Thames Valley does not look like a good option, we will look to our neighbours in the south east and south west. We will explore joint working with a range of partners, including the fire service and local authorities.
A full review of our estate is underway and we will reduce the number of buildings we occupy. We will produce a plan that proposes which buildings we wish to retain, where we can share with others, such as the fire service or local authorities, and which we should sell. We need to house HQ functions in low-cost, flexible accommodation.
Officers working in local communities may share buildings, and front offices will operate from some police buildings and some shared services, for example combined public sector front counters. We will look to utilise the best of our current buildings that fit with our new model of policing. Where we can afford to build or modernise new custody suites, we will group associated investigative functions around custody.
Overall we aim to have a small HQ to allow us to place as many resources as possible at the front end. Where we currently have departments we will aim to replace them with a senior adviser supported by the minimum number of skilled staff. Where it is necessary to retain department structures we will seek collaboration. An example of this model is Information and Communication Technology, a department spanning two forces with a single boss. All of us will have to be more self-sufficient, we will make better use of mobile data technology and senior leaders will have less administrative support.
The proposed changes are subject to police authority approval and consultation with staff associations and unions. An equality impact assessment will be conducted.
In summary, when building an organisation with 75 per cent of our current central funding, we must ensure that we focus first on the front line.
To enhance and enable our efforts at the point of delivery we need highly skilled staff providing operational and organisational support. Everything we do will be remodelled by April 2012 and, where appropriate, the changes will occur earlier. The change team will co-ordinate this work, which will be split into 11 strands. Each strand will be led by a member of the ACPO team who will appoint senior leaders to progress the various elements within the strands.
The potential loss of 1,400 posts will impact on what we can do. The reduction in support will mean that frontline staff will have to work differently. The funding will be similar to what we received in 1997. We managed then and, despite the new responsibilities placed upon us in the intervening 13 years, we will manage now. We know what we have to deliver and we are clear on our priorities. All the senior leaders have been briefed on the budget situation in recent weeks and will gather on September 30, to ensure that we have clarity in taking this plan forward. I will continue to communicate via my message every week and I will conduct a series of face-to-face events at police stations and buildings across the force.
In conclusion, I am acutely aware that to take us through this period of significant change there is a requirement for strong and compassionate leadership, in line with our values.
I would like to thank everyone for their professional engagement in the review work taking place and in taking up the challenges of identifying savings and new ways of working in the future.
I am particularly aware of the impact on everyone and remain committed to ensuring change is delivered in an open way and with respect and sensitivity towards those affected.