Warning of £100m Lancashire police cuts

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Savage cuts to policing in Lancashire are set to hit £100m under the current Government, senior officials have warned.

Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner hit out at the Government’s austerity measures, which have seen the county lose more than 700 officers since 2010.

Clive Grunshaw said the cuts to Lancashire Police’s budget look “likely to rise to £100m by 2021”.

The Lancashire Police Federation said a further 800 officers’ jobs would be put at risk, slashing the force’s budget by a third in just over a decade.

And union chiefs say the huge cuts are in danger of making the constabulary a “reactive only” force which only has the capacity to respond to 999 incidents.

The warning comes as a new report criticised the Home Office for slashing funding without properly understanding the impact on front line policing.

It shows Lancashire Police, which gets almost three quarters of its funding from Whitehall, has been among the forces worst hit by spending cuts – despite rises in the council tax precept.

However, policing minister Mike Penning said there is “no question” that police forces still have enough money to do their work.

The National Audit Office, which published the report, warned falling crime figures account for less than a quarter of police work.

The public spending watchdog said the Home Office does not have enough information to know how much further it can cut funding without “degrading” services.

Rachel Baines, chairman of the Lancashire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said it is too easy to “get lost in crime figures”.

She said: “Across Lancashire, 83 per cent of what we deal with doesn’t generate a crime number – for example, searching days and days for a missing child.

“But it’s absolutely vital.”

She called for better understanding of the demand placed on the police – and what is expected of officers – as she warned there is “no way” the force can continue in its current form as the budget cuts get deeper.

She said: “I am not trying to scaremonger but some of the savings already identified will come into place by March or April next year.

“If you haven’t already noticed, I think you will start to notice a difference in police visibility by then.”