Police chiefs in England and Wales are considering taking unprecedented legal action against the government in order to block plans to deduct hundreds of millions of pounds from their budgets, the Guardian has revealed.
The National Police Chiefs Council has sent a formal letter to the Treasury saying it will seek a judicial review of the government’s proposals after the Treasury recalculated the money each force needed to pay into the police pension scheme.
It landed forces with a £420 million bill to pay on top of the 19 per cent cut in police funding since 2010.
According to reports the NPCC has already hired a barrister to seek a judicial order forcing the government to climb down. The police chiefs say funding cuts have left forces struggling to protect the public, with officer levels as low as in the 1970s in some parts.
The Police Federation criticised the chancellor’s award of £420 million to deal with potholes, roughly the same amount he had declined to give police forces to solve their extra pensions payments.
Shadow policing minister Louise Haigh said: “The government’s relationship with the police lies in tatters and it is unprecedented that police chiefs are now being forced to take legal action against ministers.
“Forcing the police at the last minute to bear the huge cost of pension changes demonstrates the utter failure of ministers to grasp the crisis in policing caused by their cuts.
“They have played fast and loose with public safety and the police are right to step up and take action.”
The NPCC has estimated the extra £420 million bill, if met solely by cuts to police numbers, would mean 10,000 fewer officers on Britain’s streets.