Cambridgeshire Police ‘not sustainable’ as crime rises 30% and force faces budget deficit of nearly £10 million

Chief Constable Alec Wood and PCC Jason Ablewhite
Chief Constable Alec Wood and PCC Jason Ablewhite
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Cambridgeshire Police has seen a large rise in recorded crime as it faces a budget deficit of nearly £10million over the next three years following a 17% reduction in workforce since 2010.

Chief Constable Alec Wood has this morning raised his concerns around the level of demand facing policing in the county.

In the past six months Cambridgeshire has seen an “unprecedented workload,” a 15 per cent increase in ‘999’ calls and a 30 per cent increase in recorded crime, compared to the same period last year (Jan – June).

In particular there has been an increase in crimes with vulnerable victims. Increases include:

- 32% child abuse

- 26% Child Sexual Exploitation

- 34% domestic abuse

- 22% modern day slavery

- 26% cyber crime

Cambridgeshire has some of the highest levels of 999 and 101 calls in the country, between 190,000 and 210,000 incidents per year.

Up to 23% of calls are immediate grades and therefore require a response within 15 minutes and up to 23% are prompt grades and require a response within an hour.

Cambridgeshire receives below the national average funding and has fewer officers per head of population compared to the national average:

- 2.8 officers per 1,000 compared to 3.6 nationally

- 17% reduction in local workforce since 2010 compared to 15% nationally

The force is also facing a buget shortfall of nearly £10 million over the coming three years, meaning further cuts may be on the cards:

2017/18 - £2.9m deficit

2018/19 - £4.0m deficit

2019/20 - £3.0m deficit

Chief Constable Alec Wood said: “Demand for our services has never been higher and this is putting pressure on our control room and the frontline.

“Nationally policing is seeing an increase in ‘999’ calls and recorded crime, and Cambridgeshire is no different.

“At times of high demand a number of officers and staff are having to work long hours, having rest days cancelled and dealing with a high volume of incidents.

“I am incredibly proud of people’s continued resilience but I know this is not sustainable in the long term.

“We have more work, with fewer people and less money which, at times, creates a real struggle for our frontline response.

“We remain committed to protecting the most vulnerable people and identifying those most at risk of harm when making demand decisions. But this means we have to be realistic about what we can and cannot attend, and make some difficult decisions around resource management.

“I want to have honest conversations with the public about the issues we face but reassure them that we have plans in place to manage our demand and continue to focus our activity on targeting the most dangerous offenders in the county.”

While demand increases in the county Cambridgeshire remains the top force in the country for victim satisfaction in police action and in the top 10 for overall satisfaction.

The force has commissioned a “local policing review” that is tasked with creating a sustainable policing model for the next three to five years.

The purpose of the review is to deliver a demand led and victim focused service which provides much needed support to the frontline.

Mr Wood added: “I want to provide the public with the best service possible and to provide officers and staff with the time they need to do a good job.

“Everyone is working hard, at times under some challenging circumstances, and I remain committed to improving things for them.

“Any savings made as a result of the local policing review will be reinvested into the frontline to strengthen our ability to keep people safe and attack criminality.”

Jason Ablewhite, Police and Crime Commissioner said: “The current policing model is clearly not sustainable and is putting significant strain on officers on the frontline.

“I am fully supportive of the Constabulary’s Local Policing Review which I believe will enable the force to respond to demand effectively over the next three to five years.

“This, coupled with savings made through my review of the police estate and continued collaboration with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary, will ensure the force is in a stronger place to keep our communities safe.”