Front-line Avon and Somerset police services 'face cut'

The chairman of Avon and Somerset Police Authority has said front-line services may be cut if the force has to further reduce its budget.

Peter Heffer said he believed the way funding was allocated to it was wrong.

The Home Office, which funds police, could face cuts of about 25% and a decision on the extent will be made later this year.

A Home Office spokesman said the police would have to "share the burden" of those cuts.

A report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies has found that only one in five forces in England and Wales are prepared for the scale of cutbacks that are being predicted.

Dr Heffer claimed the people of Avon and Somerset were "already being badly swindled".

He said: "I don't know whether people are aware that the government sets out how much money we should get for policing and then they immediately apply a process called damping where they take away a large proportion of our budget. They take away over £12m in some years.

"We have lost £60m over the last five years and that money gets re-allocated to other forces."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The government's priority is to cut the budget deficit and the police will have to bear a fair share of the burden.

"Damping ensures that all forces receive a minimum increase in funding year on year. Damping creates certainty and stability in funding levels and enables forces to plan for the longer term.

"Decisions on the future of damping will be made as part of the Spending Review which will report in the autumn."

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