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Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner welcomes debate on Police Funding and calls upon the Prime Minister to take action

28th March 2018

An opposition day debate on police funding is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday 28th March 2018), Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC welcomes the debate as it will highlight the fact that the “thin blue line” is close to snapping and without proper investment, further cuts may be inevitable.

The text of the opposition day debate is:

That this House asserts that the loss of 21,000 police officers, 18,000 police staff and 6,800 police community support officers since 2010 in addition to the reduction in the number of armed officers has damaged community safety and public security; is concerned that central government funding to local police forces will fall in real terms for the eighth consecutive year in 2018-19 and in addition that there will be a £54m shortfall in funding for counter-terror policing; notes with alarm the assessment of the National Police Chiefs Council that this will mean tough choices for policing in the year ahead; supports the conclusion of the UK Statistics Authority that the Prime Minister could have led the public to conclude incorrectly that the Government were providing an additional £450m for police spending in 2018-19; and calls on the Government to take steps to increase officer numbers by 10,000 and to fulfil the full counter-terrorism policing requirements laid out by police chiefs for the year ahead and to report to the House by Oral Statement and written report before 19 April 2018 on what steps it is taking to comply with this resolution.

Dame Vera said  “Since 2010, Northumbria Police budget has been cut by more than £135 million, the government are moving the responsibility of police funding from central government to council tax payers – which is wrong.  The funding package for all police forces in England and Wales, put forward by Amber Rudd assumed that Police and Crime Commissioners would increase the precept by £12.00 for a Band D property.  This isn’t new government money, it is Ministers dipping into the pockets of hard working council tax payers to pay for a service that government such be properly funding”.

Ministers are also claiming that Police forces combined have £1.6 billion in reserves, this is not the case in Northumbria.  Dame Vera said  “What reserves there are in Hertfordshire or Surrey does not help Northumbria.  We only hold a little over £9 million, the cuts have been so steep and so deep that we have had to use much of our reserves to fund day to day policing – to keep officers on the beat.  If reserves had not been used, we would have had to let hundreds more police officers go. Due to our massively depleted reserves, there is a danger that government cuts put us in the vulnerable position of not being able to respond to an emergency or to fund major change costs because we don’t have the reserves to do so.  CIPFA, the public sector accounting body, recommend reserves of a least 3% of turnover and ours are just on that margin.  Whatever reserves may be held by other forces, is of absolute no benefit to Northumbria Police and it is disingenuous of the Minister to suggest otherwise”.

Despite funding challenges and reduction in police officer numbers, Dame Vera Baird is working hard to maintain neighbourhood policing, as this is a priority in her Police and Crime plan.  However, if the government continues pursuing an unfair funding formula, then all options will have to be looked at again to ensure the books can be balanced.  Dame Vera added “Theresa May didn’t get a grip on police funding when she was Home Secretary, she now must insist that Amber Rudd does – Northumbria needs a fair funding formula, that takes into account our unique rural / urban policing needs.  The government needs to ensure all forces are treated the same, this is not currently the case.  Northumbria has seen the biggest cuts out of all forces in England and Wales”.