Theresa May has cut Whitehall grants to the police by 20% over the next four years.
A chief constable has warned that further cuts to his budget prompted by a council tax freeze are pushing his force towards a “cliff edge”.
The warning from Gloucestershire’s chief constable, Tony Melville, came in response to a barrage of warnings from police staff associations over the possible impact on front-line and neighbourhood policing of a further £1.3m savings on top of existing cuts of £24m from the £103m annual budget.
“Here in Gloucestershire, we are potentially in the middle of a perfect storm. Never before in my 34 years of policing have I experienced an issue that has galvanised staff and officers in the way that this has and I feel compelled to respond,” said Melville.
He said that the force had already lost funding for 63 officers and the council tax freeze meant they were cutting much deeper than had been intended when they started reviewing their spending. “So in a small force, a series of local decisions have combined to take us to a metaphorical cliff edge much more quickly than others,” he said.
“We have already closed a majority of our stations and a third of civilian staff have been let go, so further cuts will inevitably mean that I need to look at neighbourhood policing,” said the chief constable.
His warning is the starkest yet from a senior police officer since the home secretary, Theresa May, announced a 20% cut in Whitehall grants to the police spread over the next four years. Ministers were hoping that increases in the precept forces levy on council tax payers would go some way to bridge the gap but a freeze in many areas has closed off that avenue.
Police chief warns of funding ‘cliff edge’