Budget must set clear direction for police funding

21 November 2017

PFEW Chair Steve White

PFEW Chair Steve White

Amid all the talk and speculation on what will be contained in this week’s budget, the Chancellor Phillip Hammond must set clear direction for police funding to reaffirm the government’s commitment to keep the public safe.

This is the view of Steve White, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, who believes the current year-by-year approach to police budgets is inefficient and gives Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and Chief Constables little ability to effectively plan ahead.

Mr White said: “Chiefs and PCCs need to know what they are going to get, not just next year, but in years two, three, four and five in order for them to properly plan.”

“The government is already clear that policing needs to be even more efficient but reform with at least a five year funding strategy is needed for it to be sustainable.”

Mr White echoed many in policing who have challenged the government view that police budgets have been ‘protected’ between 2015 and 2020.

He said: “It is all very well for politicians to say that funding is being protected but the reality is there for all to see. The amount of money that police forces have to play with has gone down because inflation has gone up. It is simple maths.”

He also challenged the idea that forces can simply tap in to reserves to plug the gap, following recent comments made by Home Secretary Amber Rudd and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) Joint Summit.

“Of course forces have to keep something in reserve because they don’t know what is around the corner or coming down the line in the next 12 months.”

Mr White did however appreciate the need for chiefs and PCCs to make clear to government how additional funding would be spent, not just why it is required.

“There is an opportunity for police leaders to provide a credible, evidence based argument about why these additional resources are needed and where they would go.”

Finally Mr White made clear that PCCs, alongside Chief Constables, must challenge the government for clear direction on police funding if it is not forthcoming. 

“If the Chancellor does not set out any clear direction for police funding, PCCs and chief constables must put the pressure on government to address this in the immediacy. If this doesn’t happen officers and police staff will suffer with continued uncertainty and ultimately the public will suffer.”

Further thoughts of the PFEW Chair, Steve White, on the autumn budget 2017 can be read on the Police Oracle website.