Some 200 Leicestershire Police jobs at risk due to budget deficit
Leicestershire Police could cut almost 200 jobs due to a budget deficit, although police officer numbers will remain the same.
The potential job losses were revealed during a police and crime panel council meeting about the force’s 2024/25 budget, in which its share of council tax was decided.
Chief constable Rob Nixon said the force would have to make ‘very difficult decisions’, and that Leicestershire residents were not ‘being given a fair slice of the formula’ when it came to funding.
Leicestershire Police’s share of council tax for the next financial year has been set at the maximum amount of £13 per Band D property, representing an increase of 4.76 per cent.
But at £243.15 million, the force’s overall budget for the year will fall short by £5.4m, which Mr Nixon said was ‘falling on staff’.
He blamed the shortfall largely on ‘unfunded’ pay awards over the past two years, with government agreeing a £1,900 pay increase for police staff in 2022, while a further seven per cent rise was confirmed last year.
Mr Nixon added that Leicestershire was one of 18 out of a total of 43 forces that received a shortfall in funding compared to their payroll total.
He said: “Potentially we could be talking about up to 188 staff, which is a fairly significant number. These are staff doing frontline roles. So, when we talk about a £5.4m gap we are going to have to make some very difficult decisions, and it will impact various different elements of the force.
“There would be no area across the force that wouldn’t be touched on by this level of cuts, but I’m confident we’ll do it in a sensitive and measured way.”
Leicestershire’s police and crime commissioner, Rupert Matthews says residents were ‘feeling the pinch’ but said it would be ‘downright irresponsible’ to put recent progress – including a 332 increase in police officers, and an expanded rural crime team – at risk.
Police and Crime panel chair Cllr Deborah Taylor told Mr Nixon: “At Leicestershire County Council we’re also a victim of a bad funding formula that makes us the lowest-funded county council, so I feel your pain about what to do, but the unfunded pay awards have also hit all local authorities as well as the police, and it’s really difficult.
“To sit there and talk about a reduction of staff of 188 is just horrendous, because it’s not just those bobbies on the beat, it’s all those people looking at online hate and stuff like that.”
Mr Nixon added: “Staff answer the phones, they do the forensic investigations, they’re doing the digital investigations, digital interrogation of devices. [Staff members potentially at risk are] not people that aren’t equally as important [as officers].”
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner will receive 2.7 per cent of the budget, with 70 per cent of the £4.65m figure given to services for residents and businesses. The commissioner’s office says it helps fund substance misuse services, safeguarding boards and suicide prevention, among other schemes, and gives money to the community safety partnerships.