The future of policing in Norfolk is at a “critical point” as the service braces itself for more severe funding cuts, the county’s chief constable has warned today.
Senior officers have announced plans to review the future shape of the Norfolk force ahead of the publication of the government’s spending review in November.
They fear the review could impose budget reductions of up to 40 per cent on top of existing savings programmes.
A public survey of crime and policing in Norfolk is also being launched as part of the review.
And Chief Constable Simon Bailey said the public needs to “think differently” about how the area is likely to be policed in future.
He said: “The scale and pace of cuts to the policing budget, taken together with unparalleled growth in complex crime and new demand, means the service has reached a critical point.
“The next round of public sector budget reductions will be a game-changer for policing in Norfolk.
“No longer can we simply adapt or adjust our existing model – the change required to meet this challenge must be radical.
“It is time for an open and frank conversation with the public about our future.”
The review, called Norfolk 2020, is being led by Mr Bailey’s deputy, Charlie Hall, and will examine areas including local policing models, traffic and roads issues and criminal investigation departments (CIDs).
Although more than £24 million has already been saved through a range of collaborative working arrangements introduced with Suffolk police, the Norfolk force still has to close a £10 million shortfall in the savings it has to deliver by 2020 even before any new cuts are imposed.
The shortfall coincides with a 16 per cent rise in recorded crime rates in Norfolk, excluding fraud, during 2014-15 and expected increases in the costs of dealing with crime in the coming years.
Ministers are also expected to announce reforms to the formula through which individual police forces are funded in December.
The review will look at how ways of collaborating with other forces and emergency services, such as the fire service, can be extended and issues with the greatest potential to harm the public can be given the highest priority.
The review will begin with internal consultations. Initial recommendations are expected to be presented to senior officers in December.
However, Mr Bailey said: “Thanks to foresight and careful planning, Norfolk Constabulary is in a relatively good place.
“Norfolk 2020 will ensure we continue to deliver a responsive, relevant and viable police service, albeit one that will inevitably look and feel different.”
Staff from University Campus Suffolk (UCS) are carrying out the survey of crime and anti-social behaviour.
Residents can take part by visiting www.surveymonkey.com/r/norfolksuffolksurvey.
More information about the poll is also available at www.ucs.ac.uk/communit ysafetysurvey.