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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2016-11-10

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Government's broken promises putting public safety at risk

MERSEYSIDE'S Police Commissioner has warned that the Government's broken promises are putting public safety in the region at risk. Now Jane Kennedy is urging Ministers to stop conning the public over claims it has protected Police funding after the release of the Home Office's financial settlement, which proposes a 1.4% cut to Merseyside's General Police Grant in the 2017/2018 budget. If imposed, it will mean a grant reduction of £3.3m next year in comparison to 2016/17 budget, which flies in the face of the Chancellor's promise that he made in autumn 2015 to:- "Protect the Police."

Even if the Police Commissioner gets public support to make the maximum increase to the Police precept that the Policing element of the Council Tax bill, she can only raise £1.4m to offset these cuts, leaving a shortfall of nearly £1.9m compared to the 2015 to 2016 financial year's budget.

While the full implications are still being examined, it appears that Merseyside Police is among the Forces worst hit in the provisional report that has been released by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Jane said:- "In the autumn statement last year, the Chancellor personally promised that Police Force budgets would be protected. Sadly, this provisional grant report highlights that this is not true. The Government need to stop conning the public and admit Police funding is being cut in real terms. Even if I ask local people to pay an increase in their Council Tax, I still won't make up the shortfall created by this reduction in the general grant. The Government is leaving Merseyside Police woefully underfunded; once again we are 1 of the worst hit areas. Merseyside Police has already been had its budget slashed by £84m over the last 6 years. Today, the Force is less than 6,000 strong, having lost more than 1,500 people from its workforce. The Chief Constable and his team are doing everything possible to mitigate the impact of these cuts; they have already reviewed and streamlined every function, invested in new technology to increase efficiency, and they are currently in the process of radically restructuring the entire organisation; but even doing all of this will not be enough to make the savings required by this Government. Crime is rising and these destructive cuts will put public safety at greater risk. Officers, PCSOs and staff are being expected to do more and more with less and less. Their magnificent efforts are to be applauded, but it is causing real strain. The Chief Constable and I made strong representations recently to the Police Minister, Brandon Lewis urging him to adequately fund Merseyside Police. These have clearly been ignored and now their broken promises are putting public safety at risk. I will be making Merseyside's MPs aware of the implication of these changes."


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