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Pressure on police forces to save cash

PUBLISHED: 13:32 03 December 2009 | UPDATED: 08:56 01 August 2010

POLICE forces in Norfolk and Suffolk last night said they would look to collaborate more with each other as ministers announced plans to save hundreds of millions of pounds from police budgets.

POLICE forces in Norfolk and Suffolk last night said they would look to collaborate more with each other as ministers announced plans to save hundreds of millions of pounds from police budgets.

The police helicopter fleet will be reduced by a fifth and overtime cut by £70m a year within four years, the policing white paper revealed.

Forces will pool forensic work and there will be incentives to merge procurement of uniforms and patrol cars.

The Home Office document on police reform, Protecting the Public, said the initiatives could lead to annual savings of £545m by 2014.

Home secretary Alan Johnson yesterday denied the efficiency drive would “dilute” the government's crime-fighting agenda.

“Cuts don't come into this. Record levels of funding for this year and next year are guaranteed,” he said.

“Our absolute priority is to maintain frontline policing numbers. We didn't get to this level of 16,000 more police officers and the introduction of police community support officers for the first time only to see that evaporate.”

Police forces in Norfolk and Suffolk said they would look to work more closely together in a bid to save money.

A Norfolk police spokesman said: “Norfolk Constabulary has been working hard to put the public at the heart of all we do, a key focus of the policing white paper which looks at the challenges ahead.

“We've also been improving our efficiency by driving down costs, removing waste and unnecessary duplication and, importantly, improving our service to our customers. While this stands us in good stead for the future we will not be complacent.

“We'll build on this and further explore how we can work with Suffolk Constabulary to meet the challenges of the future to succeed in our vision of protecting commun-ities. The white paper will help guide this work and we'll be reviewing what it has to say.”

Gulshan Kayembe, chairman of Suffolk Police Authority, said: “We are aware that funding is going to be very tight in the years to come; however we are always looking at ways of saving money, including more collaboration with our preferred partner Norfolk, other neighbouring forces and local councils.”

Publication of the document came as it was claimed that police officers are spending no more time on the beat now than they were two years ago.

Jan Berry, the former chairman of the Police Federation, said patrol officers told her problems with bureaucracy might even have got worse. Asked if officers were spending more time on patrol she said: “It's not possible to answer the question with absolute certainty.

“But if you talk to police officers they would say it has remained the same or got slightly worse, which is quite worrying.”

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