The news that the Government is planning to plug the funding gap in policing by increasing local taxes has been slammed by the Police Federation of England and Wales.
National Chair John Apter (pictured) welcomed the extra cash but insisted the Government ‘had to be honest about what it actually means.’
He said: “The truth is that this appears to be a quick fix. A sticking plaster solution that injects extra money in the short term, but one which sees the burden falling unfairly on local council tax payers.
“They are passing the buck of funding the police service to the public by doubling the council tax precept that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are allowed to charge.”
Mr Apter insisted that any extra cash raised this way should be strictly ring-fenced for local policing.
He said: “Every penny of this extra council tax precept must go into local policing to help keep communities safe”.
But Mr Apter accused the Government of ignoring the ‘bigger elephant in the room.’
Today Policing Minister Nick Hurd announced that police funding would benefit from an extra £970 million for 2019/20 which includes £153 million towards the police pension deficit.
It also allows for £509m if every PCC raises their council tax precept by £2 a month, or £24 a year. And there is another £161m from central Government funding towards the police service.
Mr Apter said: “It is good that the Government has recognised that the pension cap breach was of their own making and the other funding will give forces some breathing space.
“But it is their austerity policies which have seen police budgets slashed by 19% in real terms. This is why policing is in crisis and our members are on their knees trying to keep up with the rising tide of crime with nearly 22,000 fewer officers.
“The reality is that this new funding won’t lead to hundreds more officers on the streets and PCCs and Chief Constables have to be honest about that. This is a standstill policing budget – it will plug the gap to a degree but householders are unlikely to experience a tangible improvement in their area.
“What is needed now is long-term financial investment in the service to pull it back from the brink so that we can start being more proactive again, ploughing more resources back into things that matter to the public, like neighbourhood policing and the frontline, and building better relationships to keep local communities safe.”
A press release on the Home Office website said:
The Home Office has today (Thursday 13 December) announced the largest increase in police funding since 2010.
The provisional police funding settlement of up to £14 billion for 2019-20 is up to £970 million more than the previous year. It will enable the police to meet financial pressures and respond effectively to the changing and increasingly complex crimes they face.
‘Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will receive:
- £7.8 billion in general Government grants, which is £161 million more than the previous year.
- more money to spend locally. The council tax referendum threshold will be £24 for a Band D property. If PCCs ask households to contribute an extra £2 a month, this would generate around £510 million in additional funding.
The statement continued: ‘The settlement demonstrates the Home Office’s commitment to fighting serious and organised crime, including economic crime and drug trafficking, with a £90 million investment in national, regional and local capabilities.’
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:
“Since becoming Home Secretary I have been clear I would prioritise police funding, and today I have delivered on that promise.
“This is a significant funding settlement that provides the most substantial police funding increase since 2010, with more money for local police forces, counter terrorism and tackling serious and organised crime.
“It will enable the police to recruit more officers and be better placed to respond to the increasingly complex crimes they face.
“As announced by the Chancellor in the Budget, funding for counter-terrorism policing will increase by £59 million in 2019/20 to £816 million, which is £160 million more than we planned at the last Spending Review, maintaining the commitment to provide the resources needed to keep the public safe.
‘There is also £153 million specifically to help policing meet increased pensions costs next year – estimated at around £330 million.
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd, said:
“We recognise the police face significant financial pressures in the coming year.”
“This settlement offers a substantial increase in funding for the whole police system to ensure forces recruit, meet local priorities and continue to improve efficiency to free up resources for the front line.”
Additionally, the settlement will again see £175 million going into the Police Transformation Fund, which includes investment for innovative new crime prevention techniques and a new national welfare service for front line officers, and £495 million for national police technology capabilities.
The £161 million of general government grants for PCCs includes an extra £14 million specifically for the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police to reflect unique pressures they face in the capital.
The police have been making good progress on key areas of reform, but we are clear that extra funding alone is not sufficient to meet the demands they face.
They must continue to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and productivity and we are challenging every police force to contribute to commercial savings, so that more resources can be freed up for frontline crime fighting.
This government will always back the police and the wider criminal justice system. This support and investment will be followed by a coherent long-term plan at the Spending Review for how we will improve outcomes for the public and make our communities safer.
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