A REVIEW of the county’s policing has concluded that despite £54m of cuts and the loss of more than 600 officers, the force gives ‘outstanding’ value for money.

A report — Responding To Austerity, issued today, details Lancashire Constabulary’s response to swingeing 20 per cent cuts ordered by Government.

Lancashire police were rated ‘outstanding’ in the categories of financial planning and delivering an affordable police service, and ‘good’ in efficiency – with an overall ‘outstanding’ judgement.

However, leading officers and the county’s crime commissioner responded by stating that £20m of future cuts would be ‘painful’ and that the public ‘will start to feel the difference’ affecting frontline policing.

The Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) report provides a detailed analysis of the effect on policing in Lancashire of the cuts in budget.

The force has identified savings of around £80m by 2017/18 to meet the government’s austerity measures.

The number of police officers in Lancashire will reduce from 3,649 in 2010 to 3,023 by the end of March, 2015. This is a 17 per cent reduction, proportionately far greater than the 11 per cent reduction in England and Wales as a whole.

The number of Police and Community Support Officers will also decline 22 per cent and civilian staff will be reduced by 238, a 12 per cent drop.

Each police officer in the county costs £108 per head of population per year, below the national average of £118.

Recorded crime in the same period has reduced by six per cent, below the 14 per cent national reduction and victim satisfaction in the county is 84 per cent favourable.

However, in the last 12 months, recorded crime rose by three per cent compared with a reduction of one per cent across England and Wales.Deputy Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said: “I am extremely pleased that HMIC has recognised that the Constabulary has responded well to the financial challenge it faces and that we are on track to make the necessary savings by 2015/2016.

“However, whilst we have succeeded in minimising the impact on frontline services so far, the remaining £20m is going to be more painful.

“There is no doubt that the public will start to feel a difference in how we police and that was always going to be inevitable, losing more than 600 police officers.

“While policing will need to change in the future, our determination to deliver high quality services to keep the public safe remains at the forefront of any change.”

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, said: “The HMIC has recognised that the Constabulary’s commitment, professionalism and strong leadership have enabled the force to reach a robust financial position.

“Consistently, my priorities have been to protect frontline policing and to protect vulnerable people.

“Of the £60m of savings, so far three quarters have come from back office and support services. This has enabled us to protect, as far as possible, front line policing such as neighbourhood policing and response policing.

“However, I said earlier this year that it would be incredibly difficult for the Constabulary to find savings beyond the initial financial ask.

“There is no doubt that the next £20 million is going to be hard to achieve without it impacting on the frontline.”