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21 January 2019
Shifting the responsibility for police funding onto council taxpayers does nothing to address the urgent need for proper investment in policing, according to the West Midlands Police Federation chair.
Rich Cooke was commenting after police minister Nick Hurd announced that police funding would benefit from an extra £970 million for 2019/20 which includes £153 million towards the police pension deficit.
It also allows for £509m if every Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) raises their council tax precept by £2 a month, or £24 a year. And there is another £161m from central Government funding towards the police service.
“The first priority of any Government should be the protection of its citizens. Any extra money is, of course, welcome but let’s not be under any illusion that this will do anything other than plug a gap the Government itself created on pensions and, even worse than that, shifts the tax burden on to already hard-pressed council taxpayers through the police precept,” Rich explains.
“The proportion of council tax people pay towards policing will now inevitably rise because there is a public safety crisis with a violent crime epidemic and 50 murders already this year in our force area alone which is a grim statistic.
“This regressive system of funding the police service will impact more on poorer taxpayers in areas such as ours and continue the postcode lottery whereby those who live in higher income force areas are better able to pay.
“This is a divisive way to pay for a vital public service and will do nothing to address the urgent significant investment we truly need. The Government has got its priorities wrong. We will still be spending more on foreign aid than on the police. Law and order, the foundation of our nation, is being fatally undermined at a crucial moment in our history.”
National Federation chair John Apter has called the announcement ‘a sticking plaster solution’ that injects extra money in the short-term but passes the buck of funding the police service to the public by doubling the council tax precept that PCCs are allowed to charge.
He accused the Government of ignoring the ‘bigger elephant in the room’.
“The reality is that this new funding won’t lead to hundreds more officers on the streets and PCCs and chief constables have to be honest about that. This is a standstill policing budget – it will plug the gap to a degree but householders are unlikely to experience a tangible improvement in their area,” John argued.
“What is needed now is long-term financial investment in the service to pull it back from the brink so that we can start being more proactive again, ploughing more resources back into things that matter to the public, like neighbourhood policing and the front-line, and building better relationships to keep local communities safe.”