Independent panel needed to sort police funding 'shambles'

Northumbria Police
Northumbria Police

Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner has reacted to a report which described the reform of the police funding formula as a 'rushed, chaotic and opaque process'.

In a report published today, the Commons Home Affairs Committee says during the pause in the Home Office's review of the police funding formula, an independent panel of accounting firms, financial experts and the College of Policing should be appointed to assist the Home Office in formulating revised proposals.

The review process was paused after Home Office officials made serious errors in calculating the funding allocations for police force areas. These errors resulted in forces who had been advised they would be 'winners' under the new funding allocation finding they are in fact facing cuts, and vice versa.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, said: "I read with interest the report by the Home Affairs Select Committee into the repeated failure of the Government to work out a rational basis for allocating force shares of the police grant. To put it simply, the process was a farce, it resembled a scene from a Carry On film.

"It is though not funny because the last version of their proposed funding allocation would have removed £18million from Northumbria Police. We still do not know what our budget will be from now on. If they return to that formula, for all George Osborne's fine words, Northumbria will take large further cuts.

"In early November, I called upon the Government to bring in an independent organisation to assist with the job that the Home Office had failed on many occasions. I am pleased that the Home Affairs Select Committee thinks that there should be an independent element too.

"The committee is also right not to support the idea of private-sector funding through sponsorship – the Government has a duty to ensure Police & Crime Commissioners have the resources to deliver effective policing of communities.

"I will continue to lobby the Government to ensure that the process they eventually put in place is fair, open and transparent. Local residents value their community police officers and the work they do and I will do everything within my power to protect this service. Since 2010, police officer numbers in Northumbria have fallen by 16 per cent, as we have suffered the biggest funding cuts of any force. Now is the time for the Government to address this and ensure our region receives a fair funding formula that focuses on the communities we serve and takes into account the extra demands on policing which arise from cuts to other public services."

Committee chairman, Keith Vaz MP, said: "The current police funding formula has become unfit for purpose and this review was welcome.

"Instead of designing a process which truly engaged the Police and Police and Crime Commissioners, they were shut out, with the Home Office denying them access to data and giving them an impossibly short amount of time to submit evidence.

"Police forces found themselves on a roller-coaster, where at the stroke of a pen they saw their funding allocation plummet in some cases and rise meteorically in others, with nobody able to explain why. It would be charitable to call it a shambles."