Layla Moran

Public Accounts Committee report must be a wake-up call on police funding

Layla Moran is calling on the Government to “get a grip” of police funding, as the cross-party group of MPs she is a member of found that public confidence has been ‘severely dented’ due to funding cuts.

The influential cross-party Public Accounts Committee – which scrutinises government spending and value for money for the taxpayer – has today published its report into the financial sustainability of polices forces in England and Wales.

The committee concludes that:

- Public confidence ‘severely dented’ as forces reprioritise work in response to funding cuts

- The Home Office needs to improve its understanding of the demands on police – and act on it

- The police funding formula must be reviewed urgently and replaced as soon as possible

MPs found that funding for police forces is down by nearly a fifth since 2010-11 and there are nearly a fifth fewer officers and staff – leading to cuts in areas such as neighbourhood policing meaning fewer officers on the street.

As a result, public confidence in the police is declining and officers’ personal resilience is under pressure with this reduction in visibility.

Violent crime and sexual offences have increased and forces are dealing with more incidents which are not crime related, at the same time as coping with fewer frontline staff. Forces are feeling the pressure of ‘cost shunting’ as cuts to other areas of public spending, such as health, are passed onto policing because it is so often the first line of response.

MPs on the committee said that the Home Office are “not showing strategic leadership of the policing system and has acted too slowly in response to known financial sustainability problems” and that the current police funding formula is “unfit for purpose”.

The Thames Valley force has seen a 15% reduction in overall funding since 2010/11.

Public Accounts Committee member Layla Moran commented:

“Our report makes really damning reading. Across the country we see fewer police on the streets having to deal with growing demands on the force, including dealing with issues like mental health crises because cuts elsewhere mean there is no-one else to pick up the pieces.

“Residents across Oxford, Abingdon and Kidlington recognise the amazing work being done by Thames Valley officers - but they are understandably concerned about cuts to local policing and want to see the police have the funding they need to boost community confidence.

“The Committee found that the Government hasn’t got a clue about how much funding police forces need to do their jobs. The Home Secretary must – as a matter of urgency – get a grip, start listening to local police officers in Oxfordshire and across the Thames Valley and give our police the funding they need to keep us safe.

"The Government talk about investing more money in policing but this is only because Police and Crime Commissioners have increased their share of the council tax, meaning hard-pressed local residents are having to stump up the extra cash needed to keep the police on our streets.

“Our police need more resources now, not just warm words, and this cannot just be done by hiking up the Police and Crime Commissioners’ part of the council tax year after year.”

Commenting on recent comments by Police Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld that Thames Valley Police are being dragged away from ‘real crime’ by an increase in reporting of hate crime, Layla said:

“This cross-party report proves that the failings by the Conservative Police Commissioner’s own Government are to blame for the thin blue line getting even thinner. The Government can, should and must give forces enough resources to investigate all crimes properly. Insinuating that people reporting hate crimes are to blame is shameful and irresponsible, when the real reason is a lack of funding for and understanding of police forces from the Home Office.”

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