This special issue of Criminology and Criminal Justice takes as its starting point the nature and scale of the fiscal challenge facing state-funded police forces in Britain following the financial crisis. Public sector cuts need little introduction and whether fiscal constraint and contraction are the appropriate remedies to the financial crisis is open to debate (e.g. Davidson, 2009; Krugman, 2012; Skidelsky and Wigstrom, 2010). However, the immediate implications are clear enough and for the police service in England and Wales this has meant a 20 per cent reduction in funding by 2014/2015 (HM Treasury, 2010). This has led to widespread public and political debate regarding what the police service can realistically deliver at a time of austerity, the implications for ‘front line’ officers and ultimately for crime control (Millie and Bullock, 2012).