Police reach 'tipping point' as funding crisis looms

PUBLISHED: 06:31 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:20 22 September 2017

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Chief Constable Andy Marsh.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Chief Constable Andy Marsh.

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Police chiefs warn there will be serious consequences if they are forced to make millions of pounds in savings as crime is rising and it has fewer officers.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Chief Constable Andy Marsh are warning the Government the force is at ‘tipping point’.

Ms Mountstevens said: “We have reached the point where enough is enough and policing in Avon and Somerset cannot be stretched any further.”

Ms Mountstevens welcomed the Government’s decision last week to increase police pay but said it will cost Avon and Somerset £1.1million – money it will have to find from elsewhere in its budget.

She added: “With required savings of £17million to find by 2021/22, crime and the demand for services rising and changing, all against a backdrop of a reducing workforce, the current situation is unsustainable.

“We need investment in policing, funding to strengthen our neighbourhood policing teams in order to focus on prevention, tackling terrorism before it happens.”

Ms Mountstevens and Chief Const Marsh have written to Police and Fire Minister Nick Hurd to highlight their fears.

Avon and Somerset has saved £65million since 2010 – meaning it employs 655 fewer officers.

Recorded crime meanwhile has risen 50 per cent since 2014 in North Somerset.

MORE: Funding fears raised by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

Chief Const Marsh said the cuts are ‘simply not sustainable’.

He said: “The challenging and tragic incidents of the past two weeks are a demonstration of the stretch we are facing. Our staff have risen to the challenge to keep people safe, reassured and comforted with humanity, empathy and professionalism in very difficult circumstances.

“But our continuing ability to safeguard communities, protect the vulnerable, and manage major incidents of this kind is being severely tested.

“We’ve reached a tipping point. There are serious choices to be made and we don’t believe we can or should make those alone.

“We believe the time has come for others to share the risk, and budget decisions and future choices about funding should be made in the full knowledge of what they are.”

The Avon and Somerset Police Federation agreed with his views and accuses the Home Office of only ‘paying lip service’ to officers’ concerns.

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