Posted: Friday 6th March 2015
Last week I announced a strengthening of the partnership with one of our neighbouring police forces, South Yorkshire, in a bid to meet the financial challenges faced by both organisations. I recently met with my South Yorkshire counterpart Dr Alan Billings together with our Chief Constables, to assess our options and ensure that all our residents can continue to be properly protected and receive the quality police service they are paying for.
The necessary reductions in Central Government funding look set to continue, and it is clear that the police will not be protected from this. We expect to have to save another £35m by 2019 so we cannot sit back and do nothing, if we do, policing in this area could collapse. You constantly tell me you want a visible policing presence in our communities and I am determined to ensure this is delivered. The restructure of Humberside Police has identified the bulk of the savings we need to make, but there is still £12m to find. I call this a ‘grey hole’ because we have a good idea of how it can be filled and we believe that collaboration with our neighbours can make a significant contribution.
For many years we have worked in partnership with South Yorkshire Police on support services like IT and Human resources, so this is building on what we already have, it’s the start of a new era where we will explore all opportunities to reduce costs to protect front line policing and prevent crime.
It’s too early to talk specifically about how things will look in the future, but we already have good examples to demonstrate. For example Humberside Police provide underwater search and marine investigation capability to the whole of the Yorkshire and Humber region, based at Melton. These highly skilled officers have driven up standards and provided a quality service to the other forces, whilst reducing costs by replacing four separate diving units that previously existed. If we can repeat that with other equally specialist services we can make the savings required and still protect the public. In each police force there are a number of highly specialised but expensive services, often working unseen by the public. If some of those services can be shared, it will massively reduce cost while maintaining or even improving the quality of service.
Let’s be clear, this is not a merger, both forces will retain their own identity and continue to provide local policing in their own areas, but if we continue to operate as we are and our budgets continue to shrink, I have previously said Humberside Police would reach the tipping point and collapse, putting the public at risk and I am not prepared to allow that to happen.
Both the South Yorkshire Commissioner, and I, together with our Chief Constables are committed to protecting the public and reducing crime. This strategic partnership will greatly assist us in meeting the challenges ahead and maintaining an effective police service to you, our residents.