Police warn investigations will suffer if next year’s budget cuts go through

The police have warned of tremendous impacts if the government’s wide-ranging budget cuts go ahead. The current plan calls for a cutting a four-billion crown slice from the police budget in 2013 and an additional two and a half billion the year after that. According to an internal police risk assessment, reported on this week by the daily Právo, those cuts in practical terms will mean closing a quarter of the country’s police stations and laying off a corresponding amount of the force, some 10,000 police officers. The report warns that that would leave the police unable to properly fulfil one of their main tasks – investigations.

Photo: Kristýna Maková
Earlier today we spoke with retired security expert Andor Šandor and asked first of all whether that eventuality was a worst-case scenario threat, or the inescapable conclusion of such sweeping cuts.

“I think it’s a valid concern on the part of the police, because even now, before the cuts, the police are not able to investigate as much as they would like, and when they say that they will be undermanned and will not be properly financed, then they will have more of a problem carrying out investigations and thereby protecting the people.”

The police force has had to deal with major cuts in its history before, is there no where else the money could come from other than drastically reducing the number of officers and stations?

Andor Šandor,  photo: Czech Television
“I can’t say exactly, because I am not so involved in studying the whole police department. Obviously there are some areas where cuts can be made without influencing the ability of the police to investigate. But I don’t think a big portion of money can be saved like that. The cuts that are being prepared will therefore directly strike the police personnel, who are on the streets and are protecting the people and the property of the country.”

Judging by the mood in society at the moment and the government’s track record so far, what are the chances in your opinion that such drastic cuts will in the end be made?

“I don’t believe that the minister of the interior has the political strength to influence it. There may be some small amount of money that can be saved, but I don’t believe that in the situation that we face now, and when the government is determined to make these cuts, that the interior ministry will be able to save enough money to keep better police preparedness for fighting crime on the streets of the country.”

Jan Kubice
Interior Minister Kubice is relatively new to the post, do you get the impression he will be trying to get the police budget increased, or that he will side with the government and push for strong cuts?

“I believe that he will be on the side of the police, but the problem with this interior minister is that he is not a member of any political party and so he does not have the strong support of the politicians within the political system of the Czech Republic, so I don’t personally believe he has the strength to influences the cuts we are anticipating.”