Police forces can make savings without affecting front line, says Theresa May


Police forces still have scope to save money through efficiencies without affecting frontline services, Home Secretary Theresa May has insisted.

Mrs May was responding to warnings from senior officers that cuts to forces in England and Wales expected in Chancellor George Osborne's spending review next month will damage their ability to protect their communities.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has said he is worried for the safety of London if the Chancellor announces cuts of £800 million or more over the next four years, while Lancashire's Chief Constable Steve Finnigan warned that expected budget reductions of £60 million will mean his force will "not be viable as we see it today" by 2020.

With areas such as the NHS, defence and aid protected from cuts, Mr Osborne has asked ministers in non-protected departments - like the Home Office - to come up with reductions in their budgets of between 25% and 40% by 2019/20 ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) on November 25, when the Government's plans for the next four years will be set out.

Asked about police concerns over the impact cuts on this scale could have on their operations, Mrs May told BBC One's Breakfast: "They don't know what money they will be getting, because no decisions have been taken yet.

"We are talking to police forces about a new funding formula for the police forces which will be clearer, simpler and easier for people to understand and appreciate how their police force is being funded.

"Discussions are taking place before the CSR. The Chancellor will be announcing the results in the CSR in the next month.

"There are bodies like HM Inspectorate of Constabulary that have made clear that there is further scope for collaboration among police forces to ensure they can get efficiencies and make savings in their budgets in ways that aren't affecting their frontline policing."