Merseyside's Police Commissioner has today responded to yet another disappointing announcement detailing police funding for the year ahead.
Jane Kennedy was responding to the police funding settlement announced by Policing Minister Nick Hurd MP today.
Following initial analysis of the annual announcement, the Commissioner said: "While I acknowledge the Government’s decision to help offset the pension deficit, I am once again disappointed that the burden of funding our police service continues to be moved onto the backs of the poorest in Britain.
It is important to make clear that while Merseyside Police will receive additional funding in government grant, this will only cover the pension deficit. It is not new money for the day-to-day running of Merseyside Police, the cost of which is increasing every year due to pay and price inflation. It will not assist us to cover the cost of inflation.
“Instead ministers are forcing me and my counterparts in other areas to ask local people, who are already heavily burdened, to contribute more towards policing.
“My hands are tied. If we don’t take this opportunity to raise the precept then Merseyside Police will be even further stretched, there will be even fewer officers patrolling our streets and ultimately the safety of our communities will be put in greater jeopardy.
“Merseyside Police has already lost 1,100 officers in the last eight years. The Chief Constable tells me Merseyside Police is now more stretched than at any other time in his career. In his words, the service is now ‘stretched to the hilt.’
“Prior to today’s announcement, the Chief Constable and I were considering some very serious options including closing more police stations and further reducing the teams that serve our communities.
“Today’s settlement means we do at least now have an option for raising the funding that would enable Merseyside Police to keep afloat and to ensure the service is not further weakened.
“If I don’t use this opportunity to raise this additional funding, we are facing losing another 125 officers. We cannot afford to lose any more. With the money this increase could raise, I could protect those vital posts and ensure Merseyside Police is not further depleted.
“The money it is possible to raise from council tax is much lower here in Merseyside – where the vast majority of houses fall in the lowest council tax category, Band A - compared to the more affluent, leafy, shire counties, where more people live in Band D houses and above. That means I must ask for the full increase made available to me by the Government, so that Merseyside Police can balance the budget for the next two years and I would also use some of our reserves, saved for a rainy day because the rain is falling.
“Asking our communities to contribute more is a step which I am reluctant to take and I will consult with them to seek their views first. But if local people are willing to support this increase, it will enable Merseyside Police to avert those further cuts, maintain the service they currently deliver and protect the precious police officers posts we have.
“The government have stepped away from supporting our police service, I hope local people will not do the same.”
You can see the Provisional Police Grant here.