“I very much welcome the fact that the funding for policing is not going to be cut in any draconian way. However, the grant will not allow for inflation – increases in salaries and other costs – which will have to be found. In South Yorkshire’s case this comes to £7m. So there will still have to be cuts or savings of £7m.
“But it could have been much worse. I am glad the message seems to have got through that numbers had already been reduced to levels that were frankly getting near a tipping point.
“However, the government still does not recognise the way the demand on the police service is changing. Overall crime has gone down, but the crimes that are going up are more serious, organised and complex and require greater not fewer resources to solve. In addition, non-crime demand on the police rises, not least because of the growing number of vulnerable people – including children and elderly dementia sufferers – who go missing. Finding them takes up huge amounts of police time every day.
“The cuts to neighbourhood policing in recent years have also weakened the response to the threat of terrorism. The security services rely on intelligence that comes through neighbourhood police and PCSOs.
“I remain committed to neighbourhood policing and will continue to protect it as far as possible, even though the number of police officers is thinner. While some forces – such as Merseyside – have said they will lose their Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs) altogether, South Yorkshire will retain PCSOs though there will be fewer of them.
“We will continue to find savings through more efficient working and the use of new technology, but many savings have already been achieved. We already share all our back office functions – IT, HR, finance, legal services – with Humberside police and collaborate with several other forces in procuring such things as vehicles and uniforms.
“Although the devil may be in the detail, on the face of it, the Chancellor does seem to have accepted that cuts to policing had to stop before public safety was put seriously at risk.”