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Call to define police 'front line'

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The Home Office should define the ‘front line’ in policing before it uses the concept to drive cuts, insist MPs.

That demand has come from the Home Affairs Committee in a report on police financing, which faces an overall cut in Government support in England and Wales from £9.3bn in 2011-12 to £8.5bn in 2014-15.

“The current confusion about what constitutes the front line in the police service is unhelpful, especially given the frequency with which this term is used by those involved in the debate about the service’s future,” the committee said.

“Police forces are being asked to prioritise the front line; it is only reasonable that the Home Office specifies what it means by this term.”

Some 88% of police budgets is spent on pay and pensions and so “it will not be possible for police forces to achieve the level of savings that are being required of them over the next four years without reducing the size of their workforce”, the report said.

The committee criticised the Government for front-loading cuts so that they would take effect at the same time that the proposed transition from police authorities to police and crime commissioners is in progress.

“The greatest savings are being required when the transition [takes] place and when police forces nationwide will be under the additional pressure of policing the Olympics,” the MPs said.

“We urge the Home Office to acknowledge that there are risks involved in this transition and [it] should, as soon as possible, set out how the transition should be managed”.

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