Police plan 'new approach' with public's help

PEOPLE in South Yorkshire are being invited to have their say on the impact of budget cuts of £40m over the next four years at the county's police force.

South Yorkshire Police Authority announced yesterday that it would be hosting a series of focus groups to gain views from members of the public.

Every police authority in the country will receive a 5.1 per cent cut in general grants from the Government for next year's budget, followed by a further 6.7 per cent cut in 2012/13.

As Government grants fund more than 80 per cent of South Yorkshire's Police budget – which was a total of more than 260m this year – cuts of up to 15m will need to be made next year.

The authority has admitted that the scale of the cuts will mean a "new approach" to the service.

The chief executive and treasurer of the authority, Bill Wilkinson, said: "In considering the grant settlement, the authority has agreed the magnitude of cuts means a different approach to budgeting and forward planning.

"Looking ahead, the authority will develop over the next couple of months its four-year strategy to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in South Yorkshire, while maintaining public confidence and satisfaction.

"There will clearly be cuts in both police officer and staff numbers.

"The way the service is delivered will change, but we will be working hard with the force to ensure the public of South Yorkshire remain safe."

Earlier this year the authority launched an online "budget simulator" for people to suggest how they would prioritise and adjust spending. Those who wish to take part in the focus groups can find out more by visiting the website at www.southyorks.gov.uk.

Mr Wilkinson added: "We want to continue our dialogue with the public and, in addition to measures like the budget simulator, we will be hosting a series of public focus groups to engage in a discussion about the challenges ahead."