Northamptonshire Police is said to be making ‘good’ progress achieving savings of £22.9 million by March 2015, an independent inspection has found.
A report published today following an inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in May, states that Northamptonshire Police is successfully delivering savings of £5.8m in 2014/15 and £6.2m in 2015/16 after making savings of £11 million in the previous three years.
The majority of the savings are being made through a 35 per cent reduction in back office staff, which will see numbers cut from 1,172 to 745, from 2010 to 2015.
The principle areas for savings within the force’s plans for the next two years are £2.6m from procurement budgets, £3m from further collaboration with other forces, and £1m from further streamlining police officer rank structures and a reduction in PCSO numbers.
The number of police officers is expected to drop by eight per cent between 2010 and 2015, lower than the national average of 11 per cent.
The police officer cost per head of the population is £94.3, compared to the national average £117.7. the workforce cost per head of the population is £141.5, compared to the national average of £168.1.
The force is also judged to be making savings through “well established” collaboration with other forces, as well as Northants Fire & Rescue and by increasing the use of special constables and volunteers.
However, the report states that, if no other savings can be found by 2018/19, the force will have to consider further reductions to officer numbers.
Chief Constable, Adrian Lee, said: “We welcome this hugely significant report. Reducing budgets every year has been an increasingly difficult challenge and this report hopefully reassures the public that we provide the best possible service we can.
“The hard work of the men and women of Northamptonshire Police has been vital and they fully deserve the credit for delivering the really good service we give the public.”
Surveys of county residents carried out by the HMIC also showed that 88 per cent felt safe from crime, compared to 84 per cent nationally, and 87.9 per cent of victims were satisfied with Northamptonshire Police.
Their research also found that 11 per cent of residents had noticed there were more police officers on the streets compared to 12 months ago.
The county’s police and crime commissioner, Adam Simmonds, said: “I’m pleased the HMIC has recognised the significant steps forward Northamptonshire Police has made in what is undoubtedly a challenging financial situation.
“We provide excellent value for money and the force has been recognised in this report for having overachieved on current savings plans and for having good plans to deal with further savings in the future.
“I’m particularly pleased that HMIC have welcomed our initiatives to increase the number of Specials and volunteers to increase visibility in our communities and recognised that we are ahead of many other forces in collaboration work, both within the region and with our plans to work much more closely with the fire service.”
The HMIC also noted the 15 per cent drop in recorded crime in the county between 2010/11 and 2013/14 and recognised the force for introducing innovative projects, such as the creation of a mobile mental health unit, which sees psychiatric nurses provide support to officers attending calls where mental health assessments might be required.
The force was also recognised for its use of staff surveys, which show the majority of employees understand the need for savings, and for the creation of the Institute of Public Safety, Crime and Justice, a project set up with the University of Northampton with the aim of finding more effective policing tactics for the future.