Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner has rubbished the Chancellor's claims that austerity is over, saying he was "angry and disappointed" by the government's failure to commit to increased funding for policing in the latest Budget.
Despite Lancashire having had to make over £84m-worth of imposed savings in policing as a result of successive Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition and Conservative government cuts to central funding, no new vital cash injection was announced for front-line policing
Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has insisted that the police have been ignored, with the county already having had to slash 800 police officer posts and 350 support staff with further crippling cuts required by 2022 in spite of there being fewer and fewer places to cut costs.
"Despite repeated claims that austerity is over, I am angry and disappointed that this budget failed to address any of the overwhelming issues facing policing – worst still the whole service was ignored," said commissioner Grunshaw, with the only reference to the service in the Budget being a £160m investment to maintain essential specialist counter terrorism provision.
"Whilst I welcome investment into mental health, which should relieve some of the pressure on forces like Lancashire being used as the sole emergency service for mental health crisis, the effects of eight years of austerity continue to be felt by every police officer and member of staff across the county who every day are dealing with increasing and complex demand, working around the clock to keep people safe," he added.
The Budget statement came just days after the government announcement to increase employer pension contributions for policing which has left forces being asked to urgently find £165m, potentially undermining all previous planning assumptions and resulting in even less officers on the streets of Lancashire.
The real world consequences of dealing with this deficit is forecast to cost Lancashire Constabulary £4m in 2019/20 and over £10m per year from 2020/21 onwards - the equivalent to over 200 police officers notwithstanding any further cuts the Home Office makes to policing.
"This is an impossible amount of money that the government is demanding on top of the £84m Lancashire Constabulary has already saved and £16m it still has to find for inflation and the unfunded pay award announced earlier this year," Clive Grunshaw continued. "Furthermore, as a result of the decision on Special Grant funding for the 2017/18 financial year, Lancashire Constabulary has also had to find over £5.5m to cover the costs of policing the ongoing fracking protests on Preston New Road.
"I think the government have made a big mistake and I will continue to lobby for fairer funding to ensure police in Lancashire are properly resourced to deliver the service the public of Lancashire deserve."