Despite expectations of funding cuts as a result of the government’s recent spending review, the outlook for those working in criminal justice jobs is brighter than anticipated.
It has been revealed that the criminal justice system’s frontline services will not suffer the significant cuts expected in the Chancellor’s spending review. In fact, some services will actually receive more funding than they did previously, as a result of the Autumn Statement.
The effects of the spending review will see additional funding ploughed into certain frontline services, including an investment of £1 billion in the “next generation” 4G communications network for the emergency services. This will enable officers who are on patrol to access the police databases, take electronic witness statements, stream live video and take mobile fingerprints.
In addition, there will be protection for police funding, which represents an increase of £900 million by 2019-20. Crime commissioners and police will have more flexibility in local funding decisions, as areas which have kept council tax low will be rewarded, enabling them to raise an extra £12 million per year compared to the usual 2% annual increase.
The National Crime Agency is to receive £200 million to fund new digital and investigative systems, aimed at fighting cyber-crime, criminal financing and child sexual exploitation.
Greater collaboration is encouraged between police forces, other emergency services and crime-fighting public services to keep costs down by up to £350 million, while there is to be a 30% increase in anti-terrorism capabilities.
Under-used courts are to be closed down, allowing £700 million to be ploughed into the introduction of new technology for the justice system.
Home Office spending is having a shake-up, enabling savings of 5% by 2019-20 through the introduction of a self-funded immigration and borders system. The Home Office is to reduce spending by 30% by streamlining the department’s administration budget.
The reaction of a number of crime-fighting organisations has been positive. Sara Thornton, chairperson of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said the body was “delighted” that police budgets weren’t being cut, while the non-profit organisation, Tech UK, supported the Chancellor’s announcement that the government was to fulfil its duty to ensure the security of the UK and its residents.
Tech UK is working closely with government partners to enhance the law enforcement agencies’ response to modern threats carried out as a result of new technology. The spending review is seen as a chance to improve the way the criminal justice system tackles and prevents crime, responds to emergencies and operates an effective, efficient justice system.