Lancashire Police is facing its “greatest challenge and most radical changes in over 30 years” in order to make £73m of savings, senior policing figures have warned.
The scale of the financial challenge facing Lancashire has today been outlined by police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw and chief constable Steve Finnigan.
As a result of the government’s austerity measures, there will be a loss of 165 police officers and 275 police staff - meaning predicted police reductions from 2009 to 2017/18 are in the region of 700 police officers and 550 police staff.
Mr Finnigan said: “We have navigated through the challenge well so far and have identified nearly £40m and not broken the business and to find this money we have had to take very difficult decisions.
“What has been really important throughout this review is that we minimise the impact on frontline and visible policing but with nearly 700 police officers fewer, we cannot leave those areas untouched.
“We are facing our greatest challenge and most radical changes in over 30 years and yet we want to reassure all our communities that, despite these cuts, we will continue to deliver the high quality policing services that this Constabulary is known for.”
The force says management costs will be reduced significantly and work is ongoing to re-prioritise where resources will be based and what they are expected to do.
Both Mr Grunshaw and Mr Finnigan said that if the government was to ask for further savings on top of the £73m, then this would be extremely difficult to find.
Mr Grunshaw said: “We have already saved £40m and this latest raft of changes in operational and support services will take the savings to just over £60m which still leaves a gap of around £13m to be found – anything beyond this will be extremely difficult to find.
“It is really important that people in Lancashire have a clear understanding of what the police have to do to balance the budget.”
These changes will be implemented on a sequenced basis between 2014 and 2017/18 with the new force ‘footprint’ being in place by April 2014.
For more see next week’s Burnley Express and Leader Times Newspapers.