The Chancellor’s announcement that the police budget will not be cut will be welcomed across the country, and will mean that the Kent Police budget which anticipated cuts of in excess of 20% can now be revisited. There will be a general sigh of relief that front line staff numbers will be protected and that the black hole in the police accounts which were forecast for 2018 has disappeared at the stroke of the Chancellor’s pen.
I do hope that this is now seen as an opportunity to continue looking at better ways of working, innovation and more integrated solutions to public protection challenges in the county, now that the immediate financial pressure that had been expected has been removed.
The Chancellor made reference to further support for innovation in policing – presumably through the continuation of the Innovation Fund. I would urge Kent Police to take advantage of this opportunity to scope out better ways of delivering core services as part of a joined up public service offer in our county. Sharing communication through Kent Connects is one example where I believe the police should look to take an active role.
This Spending Review announcement provides a breathing space for the police, but should not be seen as a “get out of jail free” card for those who refuse to accept the need for reform. Business as usual without addressing necessary reforms to the service to ensure it meets the ever changing demands of the public and the changing nature of crime and public safety will be a missed opportunity. I hope those in leadership roles will recognise this as a real opportunity to drive innovation.