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Increased operational demand and pay award leaves Norfolk Police facing £1.5m budget overspend

Chief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve Adams

Chief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

Increased operational demands, pay rises and the search for missing RAF gunner Corrie McKeague has left Norfolk Police facing a £1.5m budget overspend.

The latest figures, recorded in November 2017, show that the constabulary is forecast to spend £151.2m against a budget of £149.7m for the 2017/18 financial year.

Police chief finance officer John Hummersone told the Police Accountability Forum on Monday that the force had been under pressure from earlier in the year. But he said that a “package of measures” to reduce the overspend had been put in place.

He said around £600,000 of the overspend was due to additional pay awards to officers and staff. In September the Home Office announced a one-off 1pc bonus for officers on top of their basic 1pc pay rise.

Mr Hummersone said the government “assumed” Norfolk Police could fund the increase from its reserves. But he said the reserve funds were already “fully committed”.

He said other projected overspending was on ill-health retirement and injury pensions, which could come to just under £700,000.

“The year has proved operationally demanding and that is reflected in high overtime costs and high agency costs, as well as additional demand for forensics,” Mr Hummersone said.

He said the force was also finalising the transition costs of those at risk of redundancy as part of cuts to PCSOs under the Norfolk 2020 proposals.

He said of the 170 at risk of losing their jobs, around 60 to 70 officers will be redeployed into other roles within the constabulary.

In order to take control of the budget, Norfolk Police has put in a staff vacancy freeze, a control on overtime and limits to travel and accommodation spend.

Chief constable Simon Bailey said the search for RAF airman Corrie McKeague, who went missing from Bury St Edmunds in 2016, also contributed to the overspend, costing £600,000.

“We have to accept our demand has gone up, 999 calls have gone up quite significantly. That has placed a demand, and as we go through a transition period, we have incurred some fairly significant overtime costs.

“It is always my aim to get a balanced budget but there has been a number of things that have been unforeseen this year.”

Agenda papers state any overspend will be covered by reserve funds.

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