Greater Manchester Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner have been praised by government inspectors for coping well with government cuts.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) has rated GMP as “good” when it comes to managing the police service in the face of massive cuts, with parts of GMP’s work being rated as “outstanding”.
But HMIC has echoed concerns from both GMP and Commissioner Tony Lloyd that the ongoing programme of cuts could start to hit frontline services.
Tony said: “Of course I am pleased to see that GMP is being recognised for its supreme efforts in maintaining high service levels in the face of these difficult cuts. However it must be made clear that we are fast-approaching a tipping point, and these cuts cannot continue at the scale and speed that we have seen.
“The Chief Constable has told me – and I have warned repeatedly – if cuts continue beyond 2017, Greater Manchester Police will not be able to maintain its service to the public. There simply won’t be enough money left.
“We are seeing that crime is starting to go up in Greater Manchester. The reality is that the thin blue line can only be stretched so far.”
The report, Policing in Austerity: Meeting the Challenge, has tracked how police have responded to budget cuts since summer 2011, using force data and inspections to analyse how they are making savings, and how this is affecting their workforce and the service they provide to their communities.
GMP is one of the forces to have received a ‘good’ rating for the way it has managed the budget cuts so far. The service has already made considerable savings as it strives to meet the £134m hole in its budget by 2015, resulting in almost 1,000 fewer police staff posts and the loss of 1,500 police officers from our streets.
GMP is undertaking cost-saving exercises similar to many other forces across the country. But the service received particular recognition from HMIC for the following:
- Using office space that accommodates 1,100 admin and support staff in a building with space for just 500 desks. All employees can now work from home or in other GMP buildings. Closure and disposal of surplus estate have thus reduced operating costs by £3m already, with further year-on-year savings to come through associated reductions in business rates, energy and maintenance costs.
- GMP and Manchester City Council are sharing vehicle servicing with one another.
- Understanding demand – the force has developed a simulation model to help it understand the effects of changes to demand and resources. The force researched the amount of time taken by officers to deal with certain types of crimes. It then used this understanding to anticipate demand and allocate resources more efficiently.
- Partnership working – GMP has taken part in a variety of schemes, including a pilot scheme in Oldham providing officers with access to mental health professionals, linking with Stockport 100 psychiatric department to train response officers and concluding agreements with care homes on how they, and the force, can work together.