Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa has called upon the Government to heed the advice of the UK Statistics Authority and provide more coherent and accessible information about police funding.
The Commissioner said today that the public could be forgiven for believing that the claims that the policing budget is protected with a flat cash settlement mean there are no reductions in funding.
“In reality, though,” he explained, “A flat cash settlement means real term cuts. Since 2015 police force budgets across England and Wales have reduced progressively by £200m each year. In Derbyshire alone we have to find a further £5m in savings over the next three years just to stand still.
“Claims that police funding is protected are open to misinterpretation and the government has a responsibility to set the record straight.”
He went on to point out that the Home Office response to calls for a fairer funding deal doesn’t address the need to tackle the changes in criminality. He said: “A Home Office spokesman states that ‘Crimes traditionally measured by the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales have fallen by well over a third since 2010 but we are sensitive to the pressures the police are under. That is why Ministers have begun a programme of engagement with forces to better understand the demands they face and how these can best be managed.’
Mr Dhindsa said that crimes measured by the survey do not include cyber-crime, child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and modern-day slavery, which have risen sharply in recent years. “The survey no longer reflects reality,” he added.
He went on: “The Home Office also says that ‘The Government has protected overall police spending in real terms since Spending Review 2015 and this year Derbyshire Police is receiving £1.9million more direct resource funding than in 2015/16, and we have announced additional funding for counter-terrorism policing’. What is protected about a cut in funding levels of 1.3% each year, while costs and inflation rise?”
In July this year, a number of Police and Crime Commissioners wrote to the Statistics Authority to express their concerns about government inaccuracies in relation to the overall real terms protection for police funding.
The Authority’s response agreed that “there is a risk that statements about overall real terms protection for police funding could be misinterpreted by the public to mean individual police budgets have been given the same protection”.
The Police and Crime Commissioners told the Statistics Authority that:
- In the 2015 Spending Review the government gave a commitment that there would be no cuts in the police budget at all. There will be real term protection for police funding.
- The day after the 2015 Spending Review the Home Secretary, now the Prime Minister, wrote to Chief Constables stating central government resource funding to policing.... will be reduced by 1.3% in real terms over four years.
The Commissioner went on: “Despite the Government’s claims, the majority of police forces this year have not received the same direct resources funding in cash as they received in 2015/16. Forces are losing 1.3% each year. Since 2015 police force budgets across England and Wales have reduced progressively by £200m each year.
“That means that PCCs either increase the amount of money raised by the local council tax by the maximum amount, which is capped, or lose even more money.
“The Authority also stated that there is a need for government to provide more coherent and accessible information about police funding, reinforcing our view that information provided should be clearer to understand. I wholeheartedly support that view.”