Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 18:31 UK

Budget cap costs 50 police jobs

Mark Rowley and Peter Williams
Mark Rowley and Peter Williams are seeking a judicial review

Police chiefs in Surrey have launched an angry attack on the government over budget cuts which will mean 50 frontline jobs will be axed.

Chief Constable Mark Rowley said the jobs would include 35 police officers such as major crime investigators and those working with Special Branch.

The force has already announced 144 staff jobs will go under the "extremely tough" budget for 2009/10.

A government spokesman said capping should not affect frontline policing.

The budget cap, the second year in a row for Surrey Police, was confirmed on 13 May.

The force was allowed to keep the £191.5m budget it set for 2008/09, but was told then it must not exceed £189.6m, plus 5%, for 2009/10.

New bills for council tax are being sent to householders in the county, at a cost of £1.2m. They will save taxpayers £1.6m.

Police job cuts 'will be noticed'

Mr Rowley said: "The 50 operational posts that I will have to lose will involve safer neighbourhood officers working with young people in schools and giving crime reduction advice, major crime investigators, officers working in Special Branch, the forensics department, and officers from roads policing.

"Half of the criminal activity in the county originates from outside Surrey - mostly London.

"The national funding formula gives me no money towards the £40m annual cost of these cross border threats, and so it is the local taxpayer who has to provide for it.

"London criminals are avoiding the better resourced Met and crossing the border into Surrey to commit crime, and will do so more and more as the recession intensifies."

'Force has reserves'

Police authority chairman Peter Williams said: "The Government's nonsensical decision to force us to cut 50 frontline posts and to spend £1.2m in administrative costs to return 6p a week to each household appears to be a total waste of public money."

The authority has said it will seek a judicial review of the capping decision.

A Communities and Local Government spokesman said it "seemed unnecessary" for the force to shed up to 50 jobs when "figures show they have reserves of £9.4m, of which £5.6m is not earmarked".

"The Government made clear all along that it would take capping action to protect council taxpayers," he said.

"It is up to Surrey Police Authority to decide how it wishes to proceed, but any judicial review would cost the taxpayer more and be vigorously opposed by the Government which views the claim as unlikely to succeed."

Surrey receives the 40th lowest level of central funding from the Government out of 43 across England and Wales, a spokesman for the force said.

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