A POLICE force has been criticised for spending £25,000 on a survey measuring residents’ confidence in it, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Cleveland Police – which is grappling with budget cuts of £17m over the next two years – said the survey by SPA Future Thinking was about measuring confidence in the force, as well as asking people about any issues or concerns they had about local policing in order to make improvements.

But Steve Matthews, chairman of the Cleveland branch of the Police Federation, said the survey, jointly commissioned with the police authority, was “unnecessary”.

A spokeswoman for the force – also facing mounting costs from an anti-corruption inquiry into some of its senior officers – confirmed the survey would cost £25,944 over the course of a year.

A newly-qualified police constable, having completed their initial training, receives a salary of £25,962.

PC Matthews said Cleveland Police’s private sector partner Steria already operated a “ring back” system for victims of crime or those who had complained about a specific incident to determine whether they were satisfied with the response received.

“In these times of austerity, this does seem a little bit unnecessary.

“There are other ways of measuring police confidence without having to spend this sort of money on random calls to the public.”

One resident, who was called to take part in the survey, said: “We must have had up to 30 missed calls from the same number. When we did speak to them we said we weren’t interested in taking part, but someone then mistakenly called back again the following day.”

In a statement, the police authority said the survey costs, previously funded by the Government, had to be seen against its £130m annual budget.

The statement said: “When Government funding ended, the force and authority took the decision to continue conducting the surveys because we felt it important to ensure that we had a clear picture of the issues and concerns of the public in order to meet the needs of our local communities.

“This has been a very worthwhile exercise, providing a great deal of valuable information which helps to shape our policing priorities.”

SPA Future Thinking, an independent market research company with offices in the UK, France and Italy, boasts of major “blue chip” clients including British Gas, HM Revenue and Customs, Lloyds TSB and Mercedes Benz.