Force under fire
JUST a week after Cambridgeshire s Chief Constable called for more Government money, the police authority s auditors have criticised the force for a £2.5million overspend on last year s budget. The authority was unable to maintain spending within budget
JUST a week after Cambridgeshire's Chief Constable called for more Government money, the police authority's auditors have criticised the force for a £2.5million overspend on last year's budget.
"The authority was unable to maintain spending within budget for 2006/7," says the report. "The expected out-turn overspend is considered to be significant."
Accountants Pricewaterhouse Coopers says although improvements have been made over the year, it is concerned the overspend was not tackled in time.
"Whilst we are supportive of the actions the authority and force undertook to reduce the overspend - for which credit has been awarded - it is a concern that these matters were not identified and action taken to mitigate the overspend until mid way through the 2006/7 year," says the report.
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The firm, due to present it report to the authority yesterday, says the overspending resulted from two major areas:
n Significant police overtime on a number of murder investigations
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n Errors in relation to funding pensions which the police authority wrongly believed would be paid by the Government but in reality were its own responsibility.
The report concludes that the authority's financial performance has been varied over the past year.
"The predicted out-turn for 2006/7 is a significant over spend which was not expected when the budget was set," says Pricewaterhouse.
There is also criticism of the police authority's internal control which the auditors describe as inadequate.
The auditors also note overtime costs for Cambridgeshire police are the highest among its "most similar force group" and that new procedures introduced to reduce overtime costs, are commensurate with a recent decline in performance levels.
However, Pricewaterhouse Coopers says that while 2006/7 showed an improvement on the previous year, when it issued an 'adverse' use of resources conclusion, the change in its conclusions reflects improvements made by the authority and force in a number of areas.