Our force hit hardest by cuts, says chief

Unfair: Chief Constable Med Hughes wants savings to be recognised.
Unfair: Chief Constable Med Hughes wants savings to be recognised.

SOUTH Yorkshire Police chief constable Med Hughes says his force is suffering budget cuts double those of some southern constabularies – and has hit out at the Government for failing to recognise savings already made.

Mr Hughes has briefed Labour MPs from around the county and is today meeting members of South Yorkshire Police authority to discuss the decision to axe a fifth of the force’s funding over the next four years.

He believes it is unfair South Yorkshire Police are being expected to save the same amount of funding as other forces who have yet to make efficiencies his force have already achieved.

Mr Hughes said: “South Yorkshire Police already have an excellent record of reducing unnecessary spending.

“We have made £20 million of efficiency savings over the last three years by getting rid of back office roles and reducing the number of officers by 150.

“Virtually all of our officers are now in front-line roles. I would have liked the Government to make more individual assessments of police forces before deciding where the cuts will fall.

“Forces which have already made efficiences should be sheltered from the full effect of the cuts.

“Because we have already removed unnecessary spending, the cuts will have a much greater effect on the service we provide to the public. We cannot protect any one area of policing because it will mean higher cuts in another area.

“Our annual budget was £260 million last year but we are being expected to save £15 million both this financial year and next year, £3.2 million in 2013/14 and £7.8 million in 2015/16.”

Mr Hughes added: “Northern police forces receive a larger portion of their funding from Government grants which are also being cut, so will receive a disproportionately higher cut.

“Our funding is being reduced by 20 per cent, whereas forces in the south, which have less direct Government funding, will have cuts of around 10 per cent.”

He said the cuts would spell redundancy for 400 of the force’s 2,500 officers.

A spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg said: “Nick and Meredydd Hughes speak regularly about policing in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and the country as a whole. I am sure the issue of police cuts that Meredydd Hughes raises will be discussed during their next conversation.

“The Government is having to make significant cuts to public spending to deal with the mess left us by Labour and the police have to play their part. And South Yorkshire Police are in safe hands with an outstanding Chief Constable like Meredydd Hughes.

“The Government is working with police forces to increase the amount of time officers spend out on the streets, despite these difficult cuts.”