South Yorkshire Police ‘could be disbanded’

South Yorkshire Police Headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield
South Yorkshire Police Headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield

South Yorkshire Police could be disbanded within the next decade if Government cuts continue, the region’s Police Federation chairman has warned.

Neil Bowles said he could foresee the force being consumed into a larger Yorkshire-wide organisation in future.

It was announced this week the cash-strapped force is to lose almost £10m of Government funding from next April. Financial support for the force is to drop from £199.5m for the current financial year to £190m for 2015/16.

Mr Bowles said the force cannot absorb large annual cutbacks indefinitely.

“Within five to 10 years, there won’t be a South Yorkshire Police, there will be some sort of Yorkshire force,” he said.

The force is already in the process of trying to save £42 million by 2016, which has seen police officer numbers slashed and the axing of the cold case murder review team. It is also facing extra costs relating to the ongoing Hillsborough inquests and the new National Crime Agency investigation into historic sex abuse cases in Rotherham, while the IPCC is preparing to decide on whether to order a full investigation into the infamous events of the ‘Battle of Orgreave’.

Mr Bowles said in the short-term, more resources will have to be shared with other local forces.

Chief Constable David Crompton said: “I am genuinely concerned about the effect these cuts will have on our operational capacity. The public should be under no illusion that extremely difficult choices will need to be made in order to balance the books in the next financial year.”

Meanwhile union Unite has warned that councils could be pushed to ‘the edge of bankruptcy’ after their latest funding cuts were announced. Sheffield Council is to face a £42.7m reduction in its revenue support grant and has already shaved off £240m.

A report from the National Audit Office says auditors are ‘increasingly concerned about the future financial sustainability’ of some local authorities. Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said some councils could go bust between 2017 and 2019 as rising costs of adult social care and other statutory services overtakes funding.