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Kent Police search for savings in budget squeeze as force plans to save almost £7m which could lead to job losses


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Kent Police has insisted that its plans to save close to £7 million will not impact key frontline staff but there could be job losses elsewhere.

There have been reports the number of PCSOs will be reduced as part of the cost-cutting measures is under consideration.

There could be reduction in the number of PCSOs as part of the cost-cutting measures. Stock picture: Nick Johnson
There could be reduction in the number of PCSOs as part of the cost-cutting measures. Stock picture: Nick Johnson

When asked about PCSOs Assistant Chief Constable Peter Ayling said by next year, the force would have 4,145 officers - the highest number in its history.

“We are currently reviewing our neighbourhood policing model to ensure all our officers continue to be used in the most effective and efficient way," he added.

“No decisions have been made in regards to removing any staff posts including Police Community Support Officers.”

Ian Drysdale, Deputy Chief Officer of Kent Police, said: “Like most other Police Forces and public sector organisations, the force must make savings and in 2022/23 we require £6.8m which is well on track.

“Following a comprehensive review we have already identified more than 50 saving initiatives to the value of around £7 million that can be made, which will improve our financial resilience.

“Every effort will be made to avoid staff redundancies. Savings to date have included changing procurement procedures, reducing the amount paid to external agencies, and streamlining the use of licences for IT software.”

There was no threat to operational policing numbers and the public would continue to see the benefits of increased investment in recruiting more officers, he added.

That was underlined by Assistant Chief Constable Peter Ayling, who said the force was currently reviewing its neighbourhood policing model to ensure "all our officers continue to be used in the most effective and efficient way."

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Ayling
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Ayling

In February, the crime commissioner Matthew Scott put forward a budget that pushed average bills up by an additional £10-a-year. Mr Scott said the rise was needed to cope with growing “financial challenges” faced by the county’s police force.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that auditors had warned the force last year it needed to make significant savings after it had under-reported spending to the tune of £3.2m in 2020-21.

An investigation concluded there were “significant weaknesses” in the force’s arrangements for monitoring expenditure.

As a result, auditors said its three-year spending plans did not accurately reflect the true financial position and therefore “there was an urgent need to identify a significant level of savings in future financial years to the required minimum level and be able to set a balanced budget.”

Details of the shortcomings were reported in the force’s statement of accounts that covered the financial year 2020-21.

Kent Police has to make significant savings as it faces financial challenges. Stock picture
Kent Police has to make significant savings as it faces financial challenges. Stock picture

Mr Drysdale said the £3.2m represented less than 1% of the force’s annual revenue budget.

“This was addressed and the governance structure has been strengthened to ensure that in year financial reporting is as accurate as possible.

“Additional reviews were undertaken by our internal auditors to provide further assurance to the force and PCC that the financial controls are robust and working."

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