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Commissioner sets out plans to manage major budget cuts for Devon and Cornwall Police

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg has set out his plans for managing the likely £54m budget reduction faced by Devon and Cornwall Police.

“With such an extreme budget reduction we will have to completely rethink the delivery of policing services in Devon and Cornwall.” said Mr Hogg
“At this time, there is much that we do not know, but it is right that we start to plan so that important actions can be taken at the appropriate times.”
The OPCC’s budget prediction is based on two key factors.  Firstly, that the police service budget is reduced by 25% nationally, an assumption made following signals given by the Chancellor in July ahead of his autumn statement.  In addition, the OPCC is assuming that the revised Government funding formula will mean a further significant loss to Devon and Cornwall.  These two factors together mean that the PCC has now revised his savings target from £29m to £54m.
“Our budget assumptions are based on the best available information that we have at this time.” said Mr Hogg
“We expect to hear in the next few days whether the Government is intending to revise its original funding formula allocation proposals.  I hope that our campaign with the fantastic support of the people of Devon and Cornwall will have persuaded Ministers that change must happen but I am very nervous of this outcome.  In addition, we have only assumed the bottom end of the Chancellor’s stated budget reductions – we cannot rule out that he will seek even more than 25% national reductions in policing.”
Work has been undertaken across Devon and Cornwall Police and the OPCC to identify further savings.  £19.2m of savings have already been identified through reviews of departments, strategic alliance work with Dorset and a 25% savings in the OPCC’s own budget.   
Over the past few months the Chief Constable has been working on models for local policing and associated areas.  These proposals were formally presented to the PCC this week.  The Commissioner decided that work should continue to develop a revised model of local policing that maintains a number of the key elements that are currently present including emphasis on local engagement and presence.  However, the Commissioner also decided that he would need to review this decision in the light of the budget settlement that will be known in December.
“It would be foolish to take decisions at this time that cannot be reversed." said Mr Hogg
“Planning for staffing reductions in local policing and all other areas now needs to commence.  Plans can be finalised once the final budget position is known.”
The PCC also indicated that he intends to seek the views of council tax payers on whether they would be willing to pay more for policing in Devon and Cornwall.  
“Over the next couple of months I will, supported by the Chief Constable, set out what a £54m budget reduction would mean for policing in Devon and Cornwall.” said Mr Hogg
“I think that if these reductions come to pass that policing services will change in ways that the public will not want to accept.  I will want to test whether they might be willing to increase the policing element of the council tax, which currently averages £165 per year, to a higher level to retain some important services.”
This consultation is expected to commence at the beginning of November and run for up to 8 weeks.   At this time, decisions are still to be made regarding the detail of the consultation, including proposed tax increase levels.