Chair of the Police Reform and Transformation Board, Nottinghamshire’s PCC Paddy Tipping, has highlighted the real costs of the cuts in police funding, saying police numbers are at their lowest for 20 years, and crime is rising.
Earlier today Mr Tipping gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry ‘Policing for the future’.
He said: “It’s been tough and it looks like getting tougher. Over the past five years police budgets have reduced by £2.3bn, representing a 25% cut in grant. Police numbers have gone down by 20,000, meaning there are less police on the streets. In fact, police numbers are at their lowest for 30 years.
“We also have to take into account the changing nature of criminality, such as the real and present threat of terrorist attacks; cyber-crime; serious sexual violence; the rise in reports of child sexual exploitation; and historic abuse. Tackling crimes like this is a resource intensive and highly complex job.
“Ministers claim that the Police have £1.6bn in Reserves. They do not mention that levels of Reserves have fallen by 22% since 2015 and this figure looks likely to be reduced by a further 50% to £806m by March 2020.
“General Reserves, the amount that can be used to support the revenue budget, have remained steady and will continue to stay somewhere around the 3% mark. That is the generally recognised standard level.
“But the idea that there is a huge pile of money put aside for a rainy day is plain wrong – and it’s raining hard. Let’s be clear, there is no money in the bank to support Police Budgets into the future. That’s all been used in a bid to sustain services.
“While the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2015 was better than anticipated, it didn’t go nearly far enough.
“A flat cash settlement is a real-terms cut. I believe that police budgets will continue to reduce, probably by about £350m each year for the next two years. That is likely to mean a further 6,000 police officer posts will go over that two year period.
“Quite simply, police forces need to be funded appropriately in order to do their job. This is why PCCs and Chief Constables are bidding for extra money - £440m next year, increasing to £845m in 2019/20. If successful, that would fund 5,000 new officers (in England and Wales) over the two-year period and an additional 1,100 armed officers to combat the immediate terrorist threat.
“We’re also bidding for extra funding to tackle cyber-crime, fraud and counter terrorism.
“This isn’t about nice to have, but need to have. The Chancellor has the opportunity next week to show he recognises the impact further funding cuts will inevitably have on public safety. I sincerely hope he takes it.”
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Posted on Tuesday 14th November 2017