Cuts to police budgets of 20% that have been brought in and juggling limited resources is possibly the biggest challenge facing whoever is elected as the new commissioner.
During the hustings in Aylesbury this week, many of the candidates outlined how they would handle the problem.
UKIP’s candidate, Barry Cooper, said he would not be ‘coming in with a blade and slash funding across the board’, but does believe more savings can still be made. He said: “There’s still some fat to be trimmed from the way the Thames Valley Police budget is spent at the moment.” But he said if funding was re-allocated there would be no ‘black holes’.
Geoff Howard, independent, said if elected there will be no reduction in the number of bobbies on the beat.
To get the money to keep officers, Mr Howard said more partnership work could be established with other authorities, some police properties could be sold and more staff efficiencies could be found. To save officer time elsewhere, he suggested bureaucracy could be cut by officers dictating to back office staff what has happened in incidents.
Liberal Democrat John Howson also hinted that some police stations could be closed in the future.
Tory runner Anthony Stansfeld said with the budget for the next two to three years already virtually set in stone, the real question is if there is going to be another comprehensive spending review. He said: “If we have another CSR we are going to have a major issue.
The 20% we have taken has not been that difficult to take. Another 20% would be much more difficult.”
Like his Parliamentary party, Labour’s Tim Starkey is opposed to the 20% cuts and would have preferred to see cuts in the region of 12%. He said if he is elected it is likely the police precept, the force’s share of council tax, would be increased by around 4% to generate funding.