COLUMN: Force faces tough funding choices
In December the policing minister Nick Hurd announced that the government had accepted the widespread calls, mine among them, for better funding for policing services. That was the good news.
Then he made it clear that any extra money was not coming from the government’s police grant. Instead, he said that he was giving police and crime commissioners the chance to ask local people to pay more towards policing through their council tax. In my view, this was not so good.
While I welcome much-needed additional funding, I am very disappointed that I have been forced to pass the responsibility for this on to local residents.
However, commissioners were given a clear signal from the government that if they need additional funding the only way forward was to increase the amount paid by a band D household by up to £1 a month.
After a year in which police forces have demonstrated their courage and commitment to our safety, time after time in the most testing and challenging of circumstances, I am surprised that government has again decided against increasing the amount provided from the central police grant.
I believe that a government has a duty to fund the police service appropriately.
The claims that police forces would receive an increased amount from government overlook the simple mathematical fact that receiving the same amount as in 2017/18 is actually a significant cut to the policing budget over the next two years if you bother to take inflation and pay increases into account.
At the outset I pledged to fight for better funding for policing in Derbyshire.
I have consistently made our case and in doing so gained support from many local MPs. I will continue that discussion in the future. Because it is imperative. Because this is not enough.
The newly-enabled flexibility around the council tax does not begin to make up for the consequences of cuts and rising inflation since austerity began. That figure now stands at around £40m and this reduction will continue to force us to make tough choices about how and where money is best spent.
It’s fair to say that the government acknowledged the significant increase in demand on the police to tackle domestic abuse, modern slavery, child sexual exploitation, cyber-crime and terrorism activity but has not made any extra resources available for this locally.
These are areas where neighbourhood policing can prove an invaluable source of local information as well as providing a reassuring visible presence in our communities.