Fire service merger helps Cheshire Police secure 'good' efficiency rating

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

NEW computer systems and a merger with the county’s fire service have helped Cheshire Police achieve a ‘good’ rating for the efficiency of its operation.

The latest inspection report by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) praised the force for its use of resources, budgeting and future planning.

Chiefs have welcomed the findings but say there will be more challenges ahead with further budget cuts on the horizon.

The county police force has already seen its budget slashed by a whopping £57 million since 2010.

Chief Constable Janette McCormick said: “We are continuing to make investments and savings for the future so that we are as future proof as we can be in these challenging times.

“We still have more to do in the coming years and face some real challenges ahead.”

HMIC commended the force for its approach to collaboration, particularly with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.

While there is no merger of frontline services, the two organisations are combining their “back office and professional services” staff under one roof at the police headquarters in Winsford.

Bosses previously stated that the move should save taxpayers around £1.5 million a year.

CC McCormick said: “Collaboration has played a part in our effort to tackle demand and financial challenges with projects currently ongoing with other forces and of course our merger with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“This clearly shows we are doing everything possible to make us
fit-for-purpose as we continue to face incredibly challenging budget cuts.”

The report also praised Cheshire Police for its work to tackle hidden crime such as cybercrime, for which officers are receiving extra training.

It concludes: “We have examined the constabulary’s financial plans; it has sufficient reserves and balanced budgets, and its plans are built on sound planning assumptions and subject to informed challenge.

“These plans include making investments to continue to make savings in the future through management of its estate, collaboration, IT processes and a major new operating system for its control room functions that should improve public contact, identification of demand and officer deployment.

“Cheshire Constabulary is very well placed to face the future.”

Responding to the report, Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane said: “Despite the changing landscape and resource pressures we’re facing, the constabulary is continuing to perform incredibly well.

“This is a tremendous achievement when you consider that the constabulary and its fantastic team of officers and staff have managed to attain largely good or excellent feedback against a backdrop of severe budget cuts since 2010, some £57million.

“We have to fight hard to retain this achievement and retain the quality of our frontline services across the county.

He added: “With potential further budget cuts on the horizon, we need to avoid the thin blue line being stretched too far.

“It will mean the constabulary faces some difficult decisions around how it will police the county in the coming years and that’s something we’ll be talking a lot more about in the next few weeks before the Government’s policing budget settlement in the coming weeks.”

Email:

steve.creswell@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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