The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has published the findings of its inquiry into the financial sustainability of police forces.
The report makes five recommendations for the Home Office:
- develop better measurements of both crime and non-crime demand for police services and use these to inform their bid for funding in the next Spending Review;
- immediately establish a regular review process for assessing forces’ financial sustainability, setting out how it will use information and data collected by HMICFRS to inform its assessment;
- urgently commit to reviewing the funding formula, and after consultation, deploy a new funding formula as soon as practicable;
- set out how it plans to improve the delivery of national projects, in particular by streamlining its processes and fully engaging with forces and others when developing support products that will be used by them
- within 12 months,develop its own national strategy to complement Policing Vision 2025, setting out what support forces can expect in the context of a local accountability model, which activities will continue to be undertaken and funded at a national level, and why.
Vice President Paul Griffiths, who gave evidence to the Committee on behalf of the Association, said:
“This report lays out some stark truths about the impact of police funding decisions of the last few years.
“Funding for forces is down by a fifth since 2010 and there are nearly 20 per cent fewer officers and staff serving the public.
“The demand on those remaining has increased, together with the complexity and seriousness of what they are dealing with.
“Policing is also filling gaps created by the impacts of funding decisions on other public services.
“All this has consequences for those who are working hard to keep delivering a service to the public.
“We have seen this in our own numbers: with a 27% cut in the numbers of Superintendents, half our members are reporting signs of anxiety and more than a quarter signs of depression.
“What this means is the hours worked and the ‘can do’ culture is straining policing, and its people, to the limit.
“We welcome the increased pressure to understand the true demand on policing, particularly non-crimes. We also welcome the recommendation for the Home Office to step up the plate and play a more significant role. It needs to understand the pressures, secure and allocate a budget to cope with the increased demand, and make a much-needed contribution to policing from a national perspective, working with APCC and NPCC.
“As part of this, we urge the Home Office to review the effectiveness of the 11% of police funding that goes to fund national programmes.
“At a time of such financial pressure, the service – and by turn the public – needs to be reassured that these programmes can deliver value for money and also that they realise significant national benefits.
“For too long this national picture has been absent. It needs to be both strengthened and driven. It is vital the Home Office to play their role so they can provide a stronger, more sustainable financial model over the coming years to safeguard the essential service provided by policing.”
The full report is available on the Public Accounts Committee website.