Judgment day looms for police spending plans

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YORKSHIRE’s police commissioners are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the Government’s spending review next month which could add further pressures to their budgets.

Already anticipating having to make savings of £100m over the next five years, they know further reductions may be needed if Chancellor George Osborne demands the Home Office makes fresh spending cuts from 2015.

At the heart of the spending review is the question of whether international development and the NHS will keep the protection from cuts they have enjoyed since the Coalition came to office.

Home Secretary Theresa May has been identified as one of a clutch of Cabinet Ministers actively resisting efforts to impose a fresh round of austerity measures.

Mr Osborne is understood to be under pressure from Cabinet colleagues to remove the ring-fencing on health and international development spending and to make a further dent in the welfare bill.

Under the Coalition’s existing austerity plan, the Government is cutting funding for police by 20 per cent between 2010 and 2015.

The Home Secretary has risked further anger among rank-and-file officers by approving a £4,000 cut to the starting salary of a police officer to £19,000 and the phasing out of other allowances.

Crime tsars in Yorkshire and the Humber have already started to make cuts since being elected to their new roles in November.

Earlier this year Humberside Police said it was disbanding its mounted section, based in Walkington, in a bid to save £500,000 a year.

Plans for South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire to merge their mounted sections were abandoned after South Yorkshire’s commissioner Shaun Wright said he would keep his unit at its Cudworth base, but with reduced numbers. The move is expected to save £300,000 a year.

In North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan has announced plans to relocate the force’s HQ from Newby Wiske Hall, near Northallerton. She says the Grade II building would otherwise have cost taxpayers more than £1m a year to maintain over the next 17 years.

All police and crime commissioners have spoken of the need to work in new ways with local councils, fire and rescue teams and even private firms to provide services to the public more cheaply without a deterioration in their quality.