Warm welcome for Lancashire Police cuts U-turn

Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw (right) has welcomed the decision not to cut police budgets

Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw (right) has welcomed the decision not to cut police budgets

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Chancellor George Osborne's shock decision to scrap plans to cut police budgets has been welcomed in Lancashire.

The Home Office will see its budget fall in real terms over the next five years but Mr Osborne today pledge to protect spending on police.

Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw hailed the decision a 'victory for common sense'.

It means police spending will rise in line with inflation until 2019/20.

It follows weeks of speculation that Lancashire Police would lose as much as £72m after government departments were warned to brace themselves for heavy cuts.

Chief Con Steve Finnigan had warned budget reductions on that scale could spell the end for neighbourhood policing in the county and leave the force no option but to scrap its mounted and dog units. Major investigations would have been heavily scaled back.

But Mr Osborne, who has come under increasing pressure to protect policing in the wake of the recent Paris attacks, today said: "Now is not the time for further police cuts. Now is the time to back our police and give them the tools do the job."

A public petition to 'save Lancashire Police' attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

Mr Grunshaw, who launched his own 'cut the cuts' campaign, said: "Together local residents, our officers, staff and local politicians stood up and we said we could not take any more cuts and now it appears the Government has listened to the case we put forward.

"It is a great victory for my campaign, for the Lancashire people and a victory for common sense. I wrote to the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister this week, spelling out exactly that police budgets should not take any more cuts, particularly in the light of the recent terrorist attacks. It seems they have listened and put public safety ahead of spending cuts."

However, he warned the cuts simply a 'reprieve' from the Government's austerity measures.

He said: "We haven't seen the end of the assault on Police budgets by any means.

"Lancashire Constabulary has seen a reduction of 700 police officer roles and 500 police staff since austerity began and services are stretched, but what we can look at now is sustaining services, improving our collaboration opportunities and introducing the technology we leave to drive improvements."

A review of how police funding is divided between the country's force's - which threatened to cut Lancashire Police's budget by £25m - was shelved earlier this month after the Home Office admitted it had made a mistake in its calculations.

The proposed model could still have seen the force lose £8m a year under the corrected version but any changes to the funding formula have now been put on hold for a year.