Even though nine out of ten people surveyed believe the Dorset police need more money, the officers are afraid that budget cuts will cripple their services. Chief Constable James Vaughan says that in the face of the force’s present financial crisis, his force may soon “no longer be able to provide anything but the most basic services”.
Almost half of the forces budget of £142,158,000 is derived from government–that is £65,668,000 while the remaining £59,005,000 is derived from council tax. £109,143,000 of the budget is spent on staffing cost, £4,658,000 is spent on buildings and £897,000 is spent on funding victim services.
In July, it was reported that the Dorset Police overspent almost £3,500,000 on overtime and pay and the Chief Constable says he is likely to overspend the budget again this year. There has been a 40% increase in the numbers of officers reporting mental health, leading to an inevitable increase in numbers of officers signed off from work.
There are 500 fewer staff in the Dorset Police now than in 2010, there are 1,249 officers, that is 49 more than the budget figure. The force continues to recruit and officers at the same time are choosing to remain in service instead of retiring. Chief Constable Vaughan gave a warning recently about the financial future of the force: “I am extremely concerned that the stark reality of our current financial outlook means that we may no longer be able to provide anything but the most basic services to the most vulnerable sectors of our community,” he said.