Police praised for ‘outstanding’ handling of massive budget cuts

Police chief Sara Thornton
Police chief Sara Thornton

Thames Valley Police is doing an ‘outstanding’ job planning for huge cuts in its budget, according to a policing watchdog.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said the force is on track to achieve required savings of £58.9 million over the current spending review period (2011/12–2014/15) and to meet its future financial challenge, including £10.8m in cuts for 2015/16.

In its report HMIC also said Thames Valley was an efficient organisation achieving a ‘good quality of service to its communities by achieving high levels of crime reduction, overall low crime and high levels of victim satisfaction’.

The force is cutting its total workforce by 3% but actually increasing the number of officers on the front line by 2%. Police officers cost £91 for every person in the Thames Valley, compared to the average of £117 across the country.

Recorded crime has fallen 25% in the last few years while victim satisfaction is 88.5%, above the national average of 85.2%.

The HMIC report states: “Thames Valley plans to lose considerably less of its workforce than most other forces in England and Wales, with smaller reductions in police officers, police staff and PCSOs. This is extremely positive and a credit to the force that it has been able to maintain staff numbers while achieving the required savings.”

Chief Constable Sara Thornton said: “We are pleased the report recognises Thames Valley Police’s dedication to providing a high quality policing service to the communities we serve.

“While it acknowledges the difficult decisions forces have to make to identify savings, it reinforces our belief that we are making the right decisions which have resulted in crime in the Thames Valley being at its lowest for 25 years which is something we can be very proud of.

“We have reduced our annual budget by more than £58 million over the last four years and reported crime has gone down and victim satisfaction and public confidence have gone up. However we need to reduce our budgets by a further £38 million over the next three years. This will be really tough but we will do everything we can to ensure that the service to the public is protected.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said: “This is an encouraging and useful report from HMIC. Thames Valley Police has managed the considerable financial cuts well through greater efficiency, collaboration with other forces and through better use of technology.

“As the Chief Constable points out we have reduced crime to its lowest level in 25 years. We are better placed than the majority of other forces to weather the future cuts that will come, though this will not be easy.”