Home Office cuts Hunts safety funding in half

HUNTINGDONSHIRE’S community safety partnership faces a 50 per cent cut in its budget from next week and the prospect of losing it completely in April next year.

The budget for 2012/13, which begins on Sunday, is less than one-sixth of the �184,000 it received in 2006/07, and has been steadily declining since.

One of the five-strong team was made redundant this year, and at least one more will go in 2013/14 if new funding cannot be found – possibly from the new police commissioner, who will be elected in November, partnership chairman Sue Lammin told The Hunts Post yesterday (Tuesday).

“I could be left with just a manager and admin support, and no actual doers,” she added.

The first blow to the partnership budget was Cambridgeshire County Council’s decision to ‘top-slice’ funding for dealing with domestic violence and integrated offender management. Then the Home Office removed the capital element of the Safer, Stronger Communities Fund, which had been used for buy equipment used by the police and council to help the fight against crime, and progressively reduced the revenue budget.

Home Office funding for 2012/13 amounts to just �29,000, and even that will dry up this time next year.

In the meantime, Cambridgeshire police have come to the partnership’s aid with three new members of staff – a constable with experience of the night-time economy and CCTV and two community support officers, one used to dealing with individuals and groups responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime, the other bringing skills in dealing with new residents and communities.

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In November – and assuming there is money available – Dr Lammin will have the task of persuading the new police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire to help fund the partnership’s future activities.

“We have a good track record so, provided he or she is open to discussion and has the budget, we can provide robust evidence that we can spend money wisely,” she said.

Social landlords also do community safety work, particularly with their own tenants. Some, such as Luminus in Oxmoor and Eynesbury and Bedford Pilgrims at Loves’s Farm in St Neots, have their own resources. But the nearly 20 smaller landlords letting property in Huntingdonshire might be persuaded to buy that service from the safety partnership in future, Dr Lammin hopes.

“In the meantime, we are working hard to ensure standards don’t slip.”