Police ran budget surplus

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Norway’s state police system cut costs before last year’s terrorist attacks to meet strict budgets, part of the reason why preparedness proved inadequate when the attacks hit. Now it’s emerged that the police ended last year with a budget surplus of NOK 227 million, setting off calls for a thorough examination of how the police system spends its money.

Opposition politicians in the Parliament and even officials within the Justice Ministry, which has responsibility for the police in Norway, were unhappy when newspaper Aftenposten reported the surplus on Thursday. “We can hardly believe this,” said Per Sandberg, head of the Parliament’s justice committee for the Progress Party. “It will be difficult to take the police seriously when they complain over tight budgets in the future.”

The Oslo Police District alone didn’t spend NOK 51.5 million of its budget allocation for 2011, while police districts outside Oslo collectively had NOK 26 million left over. Various other divisions including the special police intelligence unit PST, the division that enforces immigration laws and the economic crimes unit Økokrim also had several million kroner unspent.

Police administrators claimed much of the surplus was misleading because the funds were committed, for example for new equipment for a special forces unit, but delivery was delayed and the bills weren’t paid by the end of the 2011 budget year. The Oslo Police District also received extra emergency funding after the attacks and again, billing was delayed.

Justice Ministry officials said, though, that “we aren’t happy about these delays” and called for local district administrators to set clear priorities and use the resources they have.

Views and News staff