Chief constable to brief MPs on cuts

Unfair: Chief Constable Med Hughes wants savings to be recognised.
Unfair: Chief Constable Med Hughes wants savings to be recognised.
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SOUTH Yorkshire’s MPs will be briefed by the county’s chief constable tomorrow on the way funding cuts are affecting his force.

Med Hughes is travelling to London to meet politicians, including Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

He has already spoken out over his fears Government funding cuts will lead to an increase in crime.

And tomorrow’s meeting comes days after South Yorkshire’s Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, claimed the Government’s plans to cut police budgets by 20 per cent would pose a ‘significant risk to public service and law and order’.

South Yorkshire Police need to save £41 million over the next four years. In an open letter to all MPs, the Police Federation claimed the Government risks turning the police service into ‘a dilapidated, demoralised fragment of its former self’.

The meeting between the police chief and MPs also comes just days after a think-tank published a report into the cost of policing, which claims one in 20 police officers across the country are carrying out roles that could be fulfilled by civilians.

The Policy Exchange think-tank says there are too many officers working in back office jobs and that more than 14,500 failed to make any arrests at all last year.

South Yorkshire Police have one of the lowest number of officers in some back office roles compared to other forces across the country, with 16 employed in the control room in 2009 and 13 in criminal justice posts last year.

But the force have an above average number carrying out operational support functions – 115, which is 33 per cent of the number employed in the roles compared to an average of 22 per cent employed by the top 10 performing forces.

Blair Gibbs, the think-tank’s head of crime and justice, said: “Too many sworn officers are hidden away in back offices. As a result taxpayers have spent at least £500 million since 2006 in extra employment costs for more than 7,000 police officers who have a uniform, but who aren’t policing.

“There remains a clear gap between additional police resources and the service delivered.”

The Cost of the Cops report recognises that some of the officers are not in a position to make arrests, such as those in management roles or on restricted duties, but adds: “It does suggest that there remain too many officers not in frontline roles where their warranted powers are being exercised.”

But Chf Con Hughes hit back: “The police service is inundated with reports which generalise and comment without understanding the full context of our work, and which never bother to research the many cost savings and process improvements we have already delivered which make our service excellent value for the public purse.”

n Councillors debate health and police cuts: see page 17