Interior Minister Jan Kubice (unaffiliated) has effectively ruled out laying off any rank and file police offices or fire fighters, despite an expected Kč 1.7 billion cut in his ministry’s 2012 budget following on Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek’s (TOP 09) proposal to freeze government spending at Kč 23.6 billion in 2012.
“I simply don’t want for any cuts — and those cuts are coming in 2012 already, which we didn’t expect — to affect any members from either service (police or fire brigade) in fulfilling their tasks,” Kubice told a press conference on Friday at which he announced the anticipated shortfall.
Following a meeting earlier with the heads of the Prague police force and the capital’s fire brigade, he also said that cuts hitherto are not threatening law enforcement efforts — in fact, Kubice said crime detection rates are up. Kubice said it remains unclear as to what number of police could be considered ‘crisis level.’
The interior minister also stressed that recent budget cuts — which prompted a reduction in the number of bureaucrats in the Interior Ministry administration and also administrative staff in the police presidium — have not had a negative impact on policing.
“The results of the regional police forces are the same or better and the detection rate in almost all regions is better,” Kubice said without stating exactly which periods he was comparing.
Nevertheless, he warned the next round of budgetary austerity measures prescribed by the Finance Ministry mean there is no prospect of recruiting more police officers for the foreseeable future. Czech Police president Petr Lessy recently announced that the police require an extra 1,500 officers which would cost the Interior Ministry around Kč 700 million more annually.
‘But it’s one thing wanting them, and another getting them.’
“I can also imagine that I would like to open recruitment. Maybe not in such numbers, but the Central Bohemia and Ústi-nad-Labem regions would certainly merit it. But it’s one thing wanting them, and another getting them,” Kubice said.
At present there are approximately 38,900 active policemen in the Czech Republic, but according to a recent study commissioned by the Police Presidium, the minimum number required is 40,309.
“We insist that any [further] reduction in police numbers and having less than the level of 40,309 will in time cause definite problems,” deputy police president Vladislav Husák was cited by the ČTK news agency as saying.
Lessy recently warned that police in some areas are threatening to resign if their numbers are not boosted soon. On Friday, however, Kubice said it remains unclear as to what number of police could be considered “crisis level.”