South Yorkshire Police boss raises fears over cuts to service

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has raised fears over possible policing cuts in a bid to balance the books.

Thursday, 26th November 2020, 12:30 pm

Dr Alan Billings expressed his concerns after the Chancellor’s spending review yesterday, in which Rishi Sunak announced a pay freeze for police workers.

Dr Billings, who oversees the running, performance and funding of South Yorkshire Police, said a government announcement due next month looks set to leave the force short.

He said he does not expect the funding allocation for next year to ‘cover either the true cost of keeping the existing service going or setting on additional police officers’.

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South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings

The government has set a target for police forces between them to recruit another 20,000 new police officers over the next few years, but Dr Billings said there may not be enough cash to fund them.

He said: “The Chancellor said three things in his statement. First that the end of the health crisis may be in sight if a vaccine can be delivered in 2021; but second, and ominously, that the economic crisis is only just beginning and will continue for as far ahead as we can see.

“And third, that the public sector outside the NHS will pay a heavy price as we try to get the finances back on track.

“Despite all that the police and fire services have done during the coronavirus crisis their reward is to have their pay frozen next year. This will have an impact in South Yorkshire since it will be money that these workers and their families will not be spending in the local economy.

“In addition, it is clear that police funding for next year – the details of which will be announced in December – will not cover either the true cost of keeping the existing service going or setting on additional police officers as part of the increase in numbers.

“In other words, there will have to be either significant cuts to the service or increases in council tax or both if the books are to balance.

“There was little cheer in this announcement for either the police or the fire service.”