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I’ll find cash for Police - Security Minister

National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief is urging people “not to panic” as he says he will reallocate additional funds to stop the police running out of money.

Mr Perinchief today spoke out about “the budget stretch” explaining that an overspend on overtime has taken its toll on this year's reduced police budget.

But he wants to reassure residents that the 11 percent or $7.5 million reduction in police funds will not affect front line policing or crime-fighting tactics.

Mr Perinchief said instead Government would step in and top up the police's $58 million budget to help fund specific policing projects.

There is expected to be a need for additional funds for lengthy crime investigations and new high-tech equipment later this year.

The Minister spoke to

The Royal Gazette after we reported the Bermuda Police Service was running low on funds and would need more money before the end of the financial year.

Mr Perinchief said: “What we're finding is that the budget is being stretched.

“But we're confident that we are able to carry the police right on through the year.

“When needed we will reallocate funds from other areas for pressing matters. These will be add-ons to the police budget.

“We have a vast capacity for raising revenue if needed and I will relocate from other areas of Government or even from within my own department.

“Every Ministry has the ability to shift its funding based upon its continuing priorities. We can shift money around.”

When asked if the police would run out of money before the end of the financial year, Mr Perinchief said: “I won't let that happen”.

Instead he insisted policing was a priority during these “difficult times” of high gun and gang violence.

Mr Perinchief, who is a former assistant police commissioner, said: “All of the core functions will continue to be covered. If there is a requirement to put in supplementary funds, we will cover that.

“It's not a matter that the police will run out of money and we won't be cutting any services.

“There's no panic, I am not panicking although I know some people are. 2010 had a lot of gun crime, but things are getting better.”

Mr Perinchief said one of the biggest challenges to the budget had been the high cost of unscheduled overtime caused by serious crimes.

Unpredictable events such as shootings and murders can lead to officers having days off or vacation cancelled at the last-minute.

If officers are called into work without being given at least eight days notice, they have to be paid double or sometimes triple time.

But these unscheduled overtime costs are now being addressed by what Mr Perinchief calls “a targeted and strategic approach to policing”.

As part of their weekly rota, officers of all ranks are now scheduled to be on-call from home. They are on standby to attend scenes of crime as and when needed, but are not paid unless called out.

Mr Perinchief said: “There has been an overspend on overtime, we've been paying the equivalent of two or three salaries for one officer's work … but we're addressing it, we're cutting back.

“We are now strategically planning for emergency situations by having officers on-call. We are forward planning and the Commissioner now makes sure there is always enough manpower on-call to rise to any occasion”.

Mr Perinchief said the BPS was also making “significant savings” by contracting overseas officers and civilians to investigate crime scenes.

It means specialists are “on loan” to work a certain amount of time without BPS having to pay any additional benefits.

Mr Perinchief said: “We are deploying people to scenes of crimes. It's a new strategy to bring in people for specialist positions as and when needed.

“We employ scenes of crimes officers for the short-term, they serve their purpose then they go back home to their own force or the private sector”.

Mr Perinchief said there was no room for that “little bit of padding” in this year's police budget, adding “there's nothing in the kitty” as all the dollars were accounted for.

But he said making cutbacks was all about “smarter policing” as he believes “there are always savings to be made”.

Mr Perinchief said cancelling overseas trips and training courses and limiting the number of new vehicles had also made savings. He added: “Having been in the police myself, I know the base amount you need to run the service”.

Mr Perinchief admitted 460 police officers was a “fairly high ratio of police to members of the public” but he said there were “absolutely no plans” for redundancies.

He said: “In ordinary circumstances perhaps the force would be almost overmanned.

“But these are extraordinary times and with officers on leave and on rest days, we need all the manpower we can get.

“We are not going to bring down the size of the force only to have to build it up again, we won't make that mistake. That defeats the purpose”.

Mr Perinchief meets Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva twice a week and they “plan ahead on budget matters”. He said they went through the “police wishlist” and discussed what items could be deferred until the following financial year.

Mr Perinchief said: “We are in regular contact about the budget. There are not going to be any surprises, I have been alerted of the costs coming up”.

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Published August 05, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 05, 2011 at 9:16 am)

I’ll find cash for Police - Security Minister

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