Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has today welcomed the news that the force will be reimbursed more than £1.3m which it has spent on purchasing Personal Protective Equipment for the police service across England and Wales during the coronavirus epidemic.
During the Covid-19 crisis, Jane Kennedy and her Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) colleagues across the country have been working to, first of all, ensure the correct equipment was available nationally and then to stand up and use the force’s budget to help purchase it, making sure that a large force like Merseyside was working in support of smaller forces with less resources. More recently, she has joined with her colleagues to lobby the Home Office to refund all the costs which have been incurred by police forces during the Covid-19 crisis.
Today, the Commissioner has received a letter guaranteeing that the money which the force has contributed towards the national stock of PPE for policing since March, amounting to £1.3m from Merseyside, will be reimbursed by central Government.
The PCC will also be able to recover the money which has been spent on ‘medical grade’ PPE locally.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “Since the coronavirus epidemic hit the country, Merseyside Police has incurred costs now totalling £4.1m over our normal budget.
“A significant amount of those costs - £1.3m – was contributed by us to help create a national supply of Covid-19 related PPE for the police service across England and Wales. A further £1.1m was spent on purchasing a range of specialist PPE equipment for use locally by Merseyside Police. The total cost of the epidemic so far also includes money to pay for officer and staff overtime, new IT equipment and licences required to enable staff to work from home, as well as additional funds to undertake the specialist cleaning of building and vehicles.
“These are costs we had not expected and that could have had a major impact on our very carefully balanced budgets. Today’s letter from the Home Office comes as a big relief. While it is not a promise to pick up the whole bill, it is a guarantee that we will be able to recover all the money we spent contributing towards the national supply of PPE, as well as a significant amount of the supplies we purchased to be used locally.
“I thank the Home Office for listening to me, and my PCC colleagues, and for recognising that it would be hugely detrimental to have expected local police forces to cover these unexpected and potentially disastrous costs.
“As always though, the devil is in the detail. I look forward to receiving more information about exactly what we will receive and how much of the £1.1m for local PPE we will be able to recover.
“In the meantime, I will continue to encourage ministers to recognise the necessity of picking up the full costs incurred by all police forces. Merseyside Police, like many forces, is currently recruiting and working hard to get back, if not to the staffing levels before austerity then close to it. It would be disappointing if those efforts were sabotaged because of the unexpected costs of policing the Covid-19 crisis.”
Police and Crime Commissioners have responsibility for their local police budget and receive all central government grants on behalf of the force.