Threat of legal action over police funding cuts

Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw (right) with Chief Constable Steve Finnigan
Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw (right) with Chief Constable Steve Finnigan
  • Seven police commissioners have written to the Home Office threatening legal action over plans that could cut millions from their budgets
  • Changes to the way money is split between different forces could see Lancashire Police lose £25m a year if current funding levels are maintained
  • The spending review later this month, when the police budget could be cut by up to 40 per cent, means that figure could rise to £87m
  • Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said the way the situation has been handled is a “shambles”
  • The commissioners’ letter warns the cuts are “unfair, unjustified and deeply flawed”
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Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner is threatening to take legal action against the Home Office in response to “savage” cuts being aimed at the county.

Clive Grunshaw and police leaders from six other areas have written to Policing Minister Mike Penning outlining their fears over budgets – and warning they could seek a judicial review “should our concerns not be addressed.”

We believe we have got a strong case for a legal challenge – we think it has been a complete shambles.

Clive Grunshaw

Speaking today, he said the way the government had handled plans to change the way police funding is split between the different forces in England and Wales was “a complete nonsense”.

Mr Grunshaw said: “We have joined together and we have outlined our case. We think the process was flawed – it was not transparent.

“We are going to look to have a judicial review if the Government doesn’t listen to what we are trying to say.”

The letter was also signed by the commissioners for Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall, Merseyside, North Yorkshire and Thames Valley, and by London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.

It states: “We believe this process should be halted immediately and the process redesigned to give forces and commissioners the information and time they need to make a proper and fair assessment of its consequences.”

Mr Grunshaw said the additional information his office requested from the Government back in August – and received last week – “does not add up”.

A consultation over the proposed funding allocations now ends on Friday after it was extended.

He added: “They have given us one week now with the latest figures – we don’t think it even makes sense.

“The consequences of this are massive. There is nowhere else we can go with the cuts other than to cut into the services that the people of Lancashire value.

“That is a real concern to me. I don’t think the Government understands policing.

“We believe we have got a strong case for a legal challenge – we think it has been a complete shambles.”

The county’s chief constable, Steve Finnigan, warned last month that further cuts to police budgets could leave the force “unrecognisable”.

As it stands, the review means Lancashire Police would lose £25m from its annual budget. The letter calls the changes “unfair, unjustified and deeply flawed”.

Combined with the Treasury’s spending review later this month, when George Osborne warned the policing budget could be cut by 25 to 40 per cent, Lancashire Police could see £87m wiped from the balance sheet.

If this happens, Ch Con Finnigan has warned it would spell the end of neighbourhood policing.

Specialist teams, including the dog unit and roads policing, would have to be heavily scaled back while a reduction in the number of detectives would leave the force reliant on outside help to investigate serious and complex crime.