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Norfolk Police facing £1.6m budget deficit after “exceptionally busy year”

Swaffham Police officers on the beat. Picture: Ian Burt

Swaffham Police officers on the beat. Picture: Ian Burt

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A budget deficit of £1.6m at Norfolk Police will be slashed after the Home Office awarded the force a share of £800,000 special grant funding for the search for missing airman Corrie McKeague.

Breckland student police officers taking part in a drugs stop and search training exercise in Dereham. Picture: Ian BurtBreckland student police officers taking part in a drugs stop and search training exercise in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

The constabulary face an overspend this year of almost £600,000 from the police officer pay settlement and anticipated police staff pay settlement, which includes a one off payment of one per cent.

A further £660,000 is expected to be spent on 10 officers leaving the force through ill health, and £100,000 as a result of the collapse of Key Forensic Services, which went into administration earlier this year.

“The budget has been under pressure since early in the financial year,” said chief finance officer John Hummersone. “A package was put in place to reduce the overspend where possible.”

Overtime is being limited, agency staff are being used to fill temporary posts, and non-pay spending is being challenged and reviewed.

It comes at a time when the force has had to find £10m of efficiency savings by 2020, and faces a further £9m deficit by 2021/22.

But the position has been helped by a share of an £800,000 grant from the Home Office, split between Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies, for the extensive search for missing airman Corrie McKeague.

“We have increased the 2018/19 budget for some of the major underlying spending pressures,” added Mr Hummersone.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “It is a source of concern we are predicting such a significant overspend. In terms of £1.2m, half of that is around the pay rise, and we have that challenge around ill health.

“The two biggest challenges around ill health are around mental health issues and muscular skeletal issues. Not all of those mental health issues are associated directly with their work, but we have our mental health team in the [control room] and they are doing a huge amount to improve our response.

“With all the operational pressures on the force, we have had an exceptionally busy year.

“Had it not been for these things we would be bringing in a balanced budget. We have developed a really exciting, fully funded policing model that will meet the challenges of the service and demands placed upon it.”

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