Suffolk PCC election: Candidates clash over cuts

Candidates fighting to become Suffolk police and crime commissioner (PCC) have clashed over police cuts.

Suffolk has a budget of £112.2m (2012-13) which is down £4.7m on the previous year.

The government has set the force a target of saving £17.7m between this year and 2014-15.

The Suffolk Police Authority agreed to raise the police precept [a share of the council tax] this year by 3.5% which means £116.77 for a band D council tax payer.

The force had feared it would have to cut the number of uniformed officers, but it is now aiming to maintain the number at 1,200.

However, it intends to cut its 1,227 non-uniformed staff by 160 by the end of the savings period.


Image caption Labour candidate Jane Basham wants says she will fight cuts

Labour candidate Jane Basham said: "The cuts are 20% - too savage. Labour said we would cut by 12%, and that was accepted by HM Inspectorate as reasonable without impacting on the frontline.

"It will be a challenging settlement that we get offered in December for next year by the government, but I'll be standing against the cuts and fighting for a better settlement.

"I really want to have a look at the collaboration with Norfolk when I get in. I want to protect the unique identity of Suffolk. I don't want to see a merger. Suffolk needs to protect its independence. I will open up the police service for greater public debate."

DAVID COCKS - Independent

Image caption Independent candidate David Cocks believes further savings can be made

Independent candidate David Cocks said: "The cuts and austerity are going to be with us for some time. Suffolk Police have made a very good start with the police authority being able to contain the cuts to a large degree and by being able to cope with a back office reduction.

"Frontline policing has been retained as far as possible. Savings are great in terms of the collaboration between the two counties. It's important there are no cuts to the front line."

"I believe there are further savings that can be made around buildings to maximise efficiency. We could look at sharing buildings. I understand there are further saving that can be achieved that would not directly affect frontline policing."

BILL MOUNTFORD - United Kingdom Independence Party

Image caption UKIP candidate Bill Mountford said he would protect frontline policing

United Kingdom Independence Party candidate Bill Mountford said: "It's wrong for national government to be making cuts while we still keep contributing to these inflation-busting claims from the European Commission.

"It's like somebody who can't feed, clothe and house themselves still paying a subscription fee for the golf club. We will have to (make savings) because it's beyond the control of the commissioner, but I shall oppose them as much as possible because that's what the population of Suffolk wants.

"But we have to live within our means. I shall ensure that where cuts are made they have the absolute minimum effect on frontline policing."

TIM PASSMORE - Conservative

Image caption Conservative candidate Tim Passmore says there should be a 'smarter and better use' of technology

Tim Passmore, the Conservative candidate, said: "We don't know what the financial settlement will be next year but we're sure there will be a cut in police funding. The headline figure is thought to be 20% but we won't know until the chancellor's statement on 6 December.

"We're expecting this big cut and the question is how do you cut the budget and protect frontline policing? I've got a good track record in delivering collaborative partnerships and new ways of working. It's about how do you do the job a bit more effectively.

"We also need to look at much smarter and better use of technology: things like broadband to upload and download things on the move, and automatic number-plate recognition for crime prevention. If you reduce crime, you reduce costs. Video evidence is something else we need to make better use of."