South Yorkshire Police ‘not prepared’ for potential Hillsborough and Rotherham scandal costs

South Yorkshire Police headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield
South Yorkshire Police headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield

South Yorkshire Police is not prepared for potential future costs relating to the Hillsborough inquests and the Rotherham grooming scandal, a new report has warned.

A new report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has found the force ‘requires improvement’ in the way it deals with financial pressures.

The force is preparing for a further £50m of cuts between 2015/16 and 2018/19 and the HMIC report has warned it ‘may not be able to sustain effective policing in the long term’.

The report said South Yorkshire Police does have a ‘good track record of achieving savings’ and has plans in place for further cuts.

But it said financial planning in relation to ‘potential liabilities for the Hillsborough inquest and the Rotherham child sexual exploitation investigation is a cause of concern to HMIC because there is a failure to provide mitigation for future impact’.

HMIC has recommended that the force needs to create more detailed plans on ‘how it might meet all the potential financial risks’ related to Hillsborough and Rotherham.

In September, it was revealed the force has set aside £11m from its reserves for potential compensation payouts relating to the Rotherham grooming scandal and the Hillsborough Disaster.

But the HMIC report said that reserves ‘provide only a limited cushion’ towards managing costs linked to the two issues.

The report also warned that current cost-saving plans will see ‘a significant number of police staff leaving the organisation in a very short timescale’.

It said: “The force has not fully evaluated the impact of the anticipated workforce reductions on its ability to meet demand in the future and there is a risk the force will lose capability in specialist and support services.”

Inspectors also highlighted the ‘particularly difficult challenge’ South Yorkshire Police has faced since 2010 in dealing with Government cuts due to the way local and national funding is arranged.

The report said: “Despite this, SYP has had a strong track record of achieving required savings with under-spends in all years of the spending review period.”