Police forces in England and Wales could face a £700m budget shortfall, warns UNISON 

Without more funding to plug these huge budget shortfalls, public confidence in the police will continue to fall. 

An analysis of police financial forecasts has revealed forces in England and Wales could face a combined budget shortfall of almost £721m by 2026, potentially putting public safety at risk, says UNISON today (Friday).

The data, based on medium-term financial plans submitted by individual police forces to their local police and crime panels, reveals drastic cuts to the spending planned.

The worst affected is the Metropolitan Police (£282m), followed by West Midlands (£34m) and Kent (£31m). Together the three forces will have a combined budget deficit of £347m by 2026.

While forecasts aren’t set in stone, police budgets look likely to be several hundred million pounds short of what’s needed, says UNISON.

As a result, tackling and preventing crimes such as anti-social behaviour, burglaries, violent assaults, organised crime and fraud could be compromised, says the union.

Many vital staff roles are already being kept vacant or have been cut altogether to save money, adds UNISON.

Cutting police staff jobs will also severely undermine the government’s pledge to put more police on the streets, UNISON warns.

This is because newly recruited officers will need to do the work once done by police staff whose jobs have now been cut, the union says.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Without more funding to plug these huge budget shortfalls, public confidence in the police will continue to fall.

“With fewer police staff to investigate cases and smaller numbers of police and community support officers patrolling local neighbourhoods, there’s a risk crime rates will climb.

“Severe cuts to police budgets will leave many forces unable to protect communities or bring criminals to justice.

“Policing will become that much harder and those in staff jobs will be left feeling increasingly anxious about their futures.

“These figures are yet another warning sign that policing is in deep crisis. Ministers must ensure forces can afford to recruit the right staff to fulfil their duties so officers can be out on the streets, keeping people and their communities safe.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON has compiled the figures from the medium-term plans published by each police force. They can be found here.
–  Police staff work as 999 call takers and dispatchers, scenes-of-crime officers, detention officers, statement takers and investigators, criminal justice clerks, station enquiry clerks, health and safety officers, trainers, and in fingerprint and forensic, press/communications, technical support, IT, finance, legal and HR teams.
– The medium-term financial plan (MTFP) provides the financial outlook, context, and resourcing principles for the annual budget-setting process. It outlines specific service and funding issues over a five-year period, including the police and crime commissioner’s funding priorities. It is subject to annual review.
– UNISON represents 33,000 police staff in forces in England and Wales.
– This story is just one of several being launched during UNISON’s conferences, which have been taking place this week and continue until today (Friday 16 June). Full details of the conferences can be found here.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Fatima Ayad M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk