News

Ministers should 'hang heads in shame' at cuts to police service

Merseyside / September 11

Ministers should 'hang their heads in shame' at the cuts imposed on the police service, says Merseyside's Deputy Police Commissioner following the release of a report into the service's financial sustainability.

Cllr Emily Spurrell was responding to an independent report produced by the National Audit Office (NAO) examining police finances in England and Wales, which has slammed the government for failing to have a clear picture of what individual forces need to meet local and national demands, or the funding required.

The report also criticises the way the Home Office distributes funding as 'ineffective', highlighting the disparity in cuts to funding in different force areas.

Merseyside Police is the third worst hit force, having had its total funding reduced by 23% since 2010 - more than double the cuts imposed on other forces, such as Surrey which has only seen an 11% decrease.

Cllr Emily Spurrell said: “This report is yet further proof of the perilous financial position the police service is now in, adding to the overwhelming evidence that the government needs to take action, and quickly. Ministers should hang their heads in shame that in just eight years central government funding for our police service has fallen across England and Wales by nearly a third.

“The government’s primary responsibility is to keep its citizens safe. With crime now rising nationally and the threats facing our communities becoming ever more complex, it is clear they are now failing in this fundamental duty.

“Even taking into account the extra funding raised from local people through Council Tax, Merseyside Police’s budget has been slashed by 23%. We come behind Northumbria and West Midlands as the third hardest hit area in the country – a position the Commissioner has been highlighting for many years now. Indeed, all the metropolitan forces that are most similar to Merseyside are in the top 10 worst affected forces and are the most disproportionately and unfairly affected. Cities which have some of the most deprived areas in the country and some massive challenges, are being further disadvantaged by the most severe cuts to this most essential of public services.

“What should never be forgotten is that beyond those figures are real men and women – officers, PCSOs and staff – who are trying to do their very best to keep our communities safe, yet year on year are being expected to do more with less people and less resources. This is taking a huge toll.

“The National Audit Office exists to help the government spend wisely. This report makes it clear that the future sustainability of our police service is in jeopardy. I urge the Home Secretary to listen to the recommendations of the NAO and implement an approach to police funding which is not only fair to our metropolitan areas, but gives all police forces the funding they so desperately need.”

Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, said: “The financial sustainability of police forces and their ability to deliver effective services is reliant on the Home Office understanding national and local demands and allocating funds fairly.

"There are signs that forces are already experiencing financial strain and struggling to deliver effective services to the public. If the Home Office does not understand what is going on it will not be able to direct resources to where they are needed, with the risk that the situation could get worse."

Funding reductions by police force 2010-11 to 2018-19

Police force

Total funding reduction: central government funding, council tax contributions and local council tax support grant (%)

Central government funding reduction, excluding local council tax support grant (%)

Northumbria

25

31

West Midlands

24

31

Merseyside

23

31

Greater Manchester

22

30

Metropolitan

22

29

Durham

22

31

South Yorkshire

21

30

West Yorkshire

21

30

Lancashire

20

31

Cleveland

20

30

Total England and Wales

19

30

Read the full report here.