Suffolk Police have been rate as ‘good by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in a new report out today, Tuesday October 20, despite making £18.8million worth of cuts.
The report, which has been released just ahead of planned announcements on changes to policing in Suffolk, is based on an inspection carried out earlier this year as part of annual inspections into police effectiveness, efficiency, and legitimacy (PEEL).
The inspectors highlighted the significant savings and service improvements already achieved, whilst identifying areas where improvements could be made.
Figures within the report show that whilst the Constabulary has successfully reduced its spending by £18.8 million since 2011/12 the proportion of the workforce on the operational frontline has remained higher than the national average.
The organisation’s collaborative partnership with Norfolk Constabulary was described as “mature and successful”, and inspectors highlighted examples of constructive work with other local partner organisations to work together to prevent crime and improve services.
Temporary Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said: “We welcome this report which has reviewed the work underway within the organisation to respond to the savings challenge.
“I am extremely pleased with our positive grading and am confident that plans are already in place to respond to those areas where inspectors felt we could improve.
“Since the beginning of the Comprehensive Review Period, our teams have worked tirelessly to identify where savings can be made whilst protecting our high level of service. Suffolk is an extremely low cost force – highlighted in the report which shows us once again as costing considerably less per head of population than the average in England and Wales.
“This makes the challenge ahead even more acute, as we look to deliver savings from a budget which is largely spent on people.
“Along with the inspectors, we recognised that at the time of the inspection (April) there was a clear need to enhance our understanding of the demand we face.
“Since then, demand analysis, coupled with extensive internal and external consultation has driven the development of our plans for re-design.
“This issue is not isolated to Suffolk, in fact the National Audit Office has highlighted this as a national concern in a recent report.
“Whilst our focus remains on the protection of our communities, we have always placed great importance on the quality of service that we provide.
“The public rightly expect a policing service in which they can feel confidence and trust and I am pleased that we are once again above the national average when it comes to victim satisfaction.
“We are in the final stages of refining the next phase of changes to our local policing model, and we expect to make announcements around these in early December.
“The report notes our recognition of the fact that our current workforce model is unsustainable - there is no doubt that our organisation will have to get smaller as these plans progress.
“The changes we will propose contain detailed savings projections, based on extensive consultation and demand analysis, and will only be agreed and communicated after thorough scrutiny by the Constabulary and the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
“Once complete, these plans will respond to the concerns of inspectors who felt we could improve in this area.
“I am continually proud of the hard work and dedication demonstrated by our policing teams across the county. Their priority at all times is the safety of our communities and as we work to re-design our services, this will remain at the heart of what we do.
“HMIC noted the effective working relationship in place between the Constabulary and the PCC, and we will continue to work together to deliver savings while keeping Suffolk safe.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “I am very pleased to see that the report recognises our clear leadership and that the plans in place reflect the priorities in my Police and Crime Plan.
He added, “In many ways the HMIC has just confirmed what we already know and that is that we need to change the way we deliver policing services to meet future demands with a reduced budget.
“The report says we need to develop plans to reduce spending further which is a valid point. I’m confident that the work I am doing with the Constabulary on the next phase of our savings plan is the right approach and will address this. We will be in a position to make an announcement on our plans later this year.
“Suffolk is a very low cost force and the report shows we have a higher proportion of our police officers on the operational front line than the national average, and we should be extremely proud.”