Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has voiced concerns on the sustainability of Neighbourhood Police if the funding situation is not addressed.
Evidence gathered by both PCCs and Police Chiefs shows that £440m extra is required in 2018/19 and £845m in 2019/20, an increase of 1.5% to 2% more than inflation in each year.
The figures were revealed in a report, compiled in response to a request from the Home Office, asking PCCs and Police Chiefs to assess levels of stretch and resilience in the service.
The rise in funding would provide an additional 5,000 officers across England and Wales to deal with increased local policing demands from new types of crime and of increasing complexity, and an armed policing uplift of a further 1,100 officers.
Derbyshire’s Commissioner, Hardyal Dhindsa said: “In Derbyshire, like other forces, we simply cannot keep doing more with less. We have made huge efficiencies, we have introduced new ways of working and invested in technology.
“But without additional funding, then the choices we will face will be extremely hard. Do we focus our resources in responding to calls for assistance over and above Neighbourhood Policing for example? I know how much visible policing in our communities means to people, but we have to be able to respond in emergency situations and investigate serious crimes such as murder, rape, knife and gun crimes and modern slavery.
“The Home Secretary says that instead of issuing a press release, we should tell our communities what our plan is to make them safer. We have a plan, it’s working well. Derbyshire is acknowledged as a high performing force.
“But the police budget is not protected, how can it be when we are losing 1.3% of our government funding year after year? That is just plain wrong.”
He went on to say that if the bids for extra money were successful that would mean additional officers in Derbyshire.
“If, and I accept it is a big if, the bid for funding is successful, in Derbyshire we would be looking at an uplift in numbers of around 16 specialist armed police officers and 70-plus police officers if the money was allocated fairly,” he said.
“That still would not replace all the officers that we have lost over the last seven years. Nationally, 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. This has to change. Crime is more complex, it is more diverse and numbers are on the up.”
In Derbyshire, officer numbers have reduced by 378, while the number of residents per officer has risen by 128. Staff numbers have gone down by around 344 and the number of PCSOs has been cut by 18.
Evidence was collated from across all 43 police forces and associated agencies to assess levels of strain and resilience across the country. This comes at a time when pressures on police time and resources are increasing. Whether it is from the increase in recorded crime, up by 13 per cent this year, more complex crimes being committed and a growing terrorist threat, the police, more than ever, are being called on to respond.
It is claimed by the Government that the current funding arrangements, in place since the 2015 Spending Review, mean that overall police spending has been protected, in real terms, between 2015/16 to 2019/20. However, due to the change in demand, the current “flat cash” settlement for local forces, which does not insulate them from inflation or the recent changes in the national pay settlement, is no longer considered sufficient.
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) Finance Lead, Roger Hirst PFCC said: “We welcome the opportunity that the Home Office has given us to make the case for a new settlement for policing. PCCs are now firmly of the view that the current settlement for policing, especially the flat cash arrangement, no longer ensures the resilience of police forces to respond to further increases in demand against the backdrop of the unprecedented shift in the national security environment.”
APCC Finance Deputy Lead, Paddy Tipping PCC said: “This year the police have had to respond to horrific terrorist acts and unprecedented levels of demand at our control rooms and, increasingly, we know that officers and staff, whose work we all value so greatly, have become stretched like never before.
“If we take the example of local policing, the bedrock of policing in this country as reactive demand is growing, and more complex crimes are increasing, the ability to deliver this key component of policing is becoming ever more difficult. We believe that a lack of investment will lead to increases in crime and a reduction of police and state legitimacy.
“All PCCs are committed to doing everything they can do to keep people safe in their communities and we will continue to work with Police Chiefs and engage with the Home Office to ensure we get the appropriate resources to do so.”
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Posted on Thursday 2nd November 2017