INSPECTORS have praised Thames Valley Police for making savings while increasing the number of officers and staff in frontline roles.
A report released today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for England and Wales (HMIC) says the force’s achievement is commendable and demonstrates its ambition and commitment to keep communities safe.
Its overall judgement is that the force provides good value for money and that it’s on track to save almost £59 million by March 2015 with £12.4m this financial year and £10.8m the following year, 2015/16.
The Responding to Austerity report states: “As a proportion of its overall budget, this savings requirement of 12 per cent is lower than the value for England and Wales; however, Thames Valley was a comparatively efficient force at the beginning of this spending review and this meant it had to work harder than some other forces in order to find additional savings.”
And inspectors said that despite these challenges the force had been able to deploy an extra 19 officers to local policing areas and a further 15 to child protection.
But those involved in the report said a number of officers and staff had described morale in the force as being low with some expressing the view that change was “being done to them”. And it said: “Despite some communication arrangements being in place, some staff and officers were unaware of issues facing the force and the rationale for the proposed changes being progressed.”
TVP’s overall grade of good was in line with 34 other police forces. Five forces received an ‘outstanding’ grade while three were given a grade to ‘require improvement’.
The report also reveals that by March next year there will be a drop in the number of police officers of 77, but this is much lower than the England and Wales average of an 11 per cent drop – it is, in fact, two per cent for Thames Valley.
However, the number of special constables, who are volunteers, will jump by 72 per cent to 700 by next year.
Special constables have the same powers as professional police, including the ability to make arrests.
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.
“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.”
However, she warned that TVP needed to cut its budget by an additional £38 million over the next three years.
She said: “This will be really tough, but we will do everything we can to ensure that the service to the public is protected.”
The main findings
Recorded crime down 25 per cent
£58.9 million in total cost savings
70 per cent of savings from pay-related costs
Police officer numbers down by 2 per cent
Volunteer special constables up by 72 per cent
Staff morale found to be “low”
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