Following the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Budget Review Statement, Kevin Hurley, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, said:
“It is difficult to prioritise on which public service is most vital to our way of life, however one might consider that no organised society can prosper or function without order, never mind concepts like law and order or liberal democracy. If there is no security or safety, teachers can’t teach, doctors can’t practise or businesses grow.
“The guardians of that order – the police, are all that stands between all of us and the dishonest or wicked.
“Today the police – as service of last resort – also find themselves stepping in where other agencies are struggling to provide their services.
“Our Chief Constable has to deal with this increase in demand for police service whilst running the already complex day-to-day operation of a police force and managing Surrey Police’s own share of the budget cuts. Today’s CSR announcement adds to those pressures.
“I do not question the need for cuts. Despite several years of budget reductions in public services, our state still has to resort to borrowing huge sums of money to fund itself. The Chancellor is quite right to say that we owe it to our children and grandchildren to provide a better inheritance than declining services and a mountain of debt from a public spending crisis we were too afraid to act decisively to resolve. As public service leaders and citizens we must grip the situation and find a sustainable way of providing the services we expect over the long-term.
“The biggest inefficiency in the police service is the number of separate forces and this can only be addressed through Government action. We cannot keep ignoring this. If we are serious about providing a sustainable, high-quality service, we need a system of fewer, larger forces which does away with the senseless expense and bureaucracy that comes with having 41 county forces with 41 headquarters, 41 chief officer teams, 41 sets of support functions, 41 PCCs and so on. Indeed, there is no reason not to look even further and consider how we can better join up all emergency services and agencies.
“This is the time to be bold – delaying only causes more unnecessary expense and uncertainty. The public lose out for every day that Westminster skirts around the issue.
“In the meantime, we are doing what we can in Surrey to make savings and keep police resources focused where they are needed. We are also working closely with the Government and respected independent academics to make sure central funding to police forces is allocated on genuine need. Surrey loses out heavily at the moment – receiving one of the lowest levels of funding for policing despite its proximity to London and being home to busiest stretches of motorway in the country – factors that significantly increase demand on police services but for which we receive no funding. Surrey contributes more in tax revenue to the Exchequer than any other county. It is one of the few counties to make a net contribution to the nation’s finances at all. Surrey tax money is subsidising policing and other public services right across the country. It is only fair to residents of this county that they receive a level of government funding that reflects the true cost of policing it.”