Following a meeting yesterday between Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears, and the Staffordshire Police Authority Chairman and
Treasurer, the Chief Constable of Staffordshire, and some Staffordshire MPs, Michael Fabricant says: "We all expressed our deep
concern to the minister that cuts which could be forced on Staffordshire Police next year would jeopardise all the improvements we
have enjoyed in recent years. Up to 75 community police officers might have to be re-assigned to other duties or lost. We all felt
this to be unacceptable. Hazel Blears sympathised and understood the problem but was unable to assure us that adequate funding
would be made available.
"Later I raised this matter personally and informally with the Home Secretary, David Blunkett. He is very much aware of the
pensions crisis facing Staffordshire Police and which will cost £4.9 million in 2005-06.
"Unless the Government provides adequate funding, either Council Tax will have to rise substantially – and possibly beyond
permissible limits allowed by Government – or there will have to be major cuts in Staffordshire policing. We expect to find out
in the next 3 weeks what support the Treasury is willing to give" Michael adds. "If Government help is not available, we will have
to hold a crisis meeting to decide what to do next".
There now follows a Statement from Michael Poulter Chairman of Staffordshire Police Authority:-
Statement from Michael Poulter, Chairman of the Staffordshire Police Authority, following the meeting of the Police Minister, Hazel
Blears, with Staffordshire MPs, Chairman of the Police Authority, Chief Constable and Authority Treasurer, at the House of Commons,
4:30pm, 2 November 2004.
Hosted by Sir Patrick Cormack MP, Chairman of the Staffordshire group of MPs. Present: Janet Dean, Charlotte Atkins, Paul Farelly,
Bill Cash, Michael Fabricant, Tony Wright and Joan Walley. David Kidney and Mark Fisher had already been separately briefed
following the parliamentary lobby. Brian Jenkins was away in Northern Ireland.
Present from the Authority and Force: Michael Poulter, Chief Constable John Giffard and Police Authority Treasurer Richard
"The authority’s presentation outlined the present impressive situation, a cadre of 274 dedicated Community Beat Officers, crime
levels continuing to be forced down, detections increasing on a consistent basis, HMIC’s Baseline Assessment, one of the best forces
in the country and significant growth in public confidence and perception of community safety. A difficult financial settlement in
the coming year leading to painful budget cuts would put this all at risk and could lead to significant deterioration in public
confidence and morale as it could impact adversely on the Community Beat Programme.
"The MPs supported this presentation with warmth and enthusiasm. They stated to the minister that they had noted significant
improvement in the policing in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and a marked growth in public confidence in their varied
constituencies. This confidence would be severely dented and continued reduction in crime imperilled were significant budget cuts to
"Hazel Blears congratulated both force and authority on the magnificent performance figures of the force, significant reduction in
crime, increase in detections and HMIC’s excellent baseline assessment. She complimented Staffordshire for its Community Beat
Officer scheme and said it should be developed further. She would not wish to see it reduced or endangered. She was most impressed
by the number of MPs in attendance and those who had already indicated their support of police force and authority.
"She was impressed by the cross-party unanimity of their point of view – their support for ongoing improvements in policing within
Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent and their support for the financial case made by the Treasurer, Chief Constable and Chairman.
"She acknowledged that Staffordshire Authority faced particular problems next year in terms of a bigger pension contribution
requirement, larger than that of most other authorities in the country. MPs and the authority made the specific point that it was
important that for just this one year there should not be a loss of momentum in the police reform programme, the Community Beat
Officers scheme and the associated improvements in public confidence and community reassurance.
"The Minister outlined her commitment to the reassurance programme both nationally and in Staffordshire. She and the Home Secretary
were doing their utmost to deliver resources to policing and pubic safety. She expressed her hope that the financial settlement she
would announce in mid-November would go some way to meet the needs of policing nationally and also the problems faced in
Staffordshire. Beyond that she could not allow herself to be drawn. She did state that floors would continue to support police
authorities like Staffordshire and that the Staffordshire pensions increase should be somewhat accommodated in the policing formula
for the county. She acknowledged that a strong case had been put by the MPs and the representatives of authority and force.
"The overall impression was that of very constructive meeting with unanimity of view from the Staffordshire MPs conveyed strongly to
"MPs and the authority will consult further when the police funding announcement is made in mid-November."