National Audit Office slams government for policing cuts

The independent National Audit Office's report into police finances in England and Wales has been published and heavily criticises the government.
 
The report highlights that the Home Office 'does not know if the police system is financially sustainable.'  
 
It also shows that West Midlands Police (24%) has been hit more than twice as hard by the cuts than forces such as leafy, low crime Surrey (11%).
 
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said: "This is one of the most damning reports I have ever read. It shows the government are in denial over the impact of their own cuts to police funding.
 
"The independent National Audit Office have now confirmed that urban forces like West Midlands Police are being hit more than twice as hard as the likes of leafy Surrey.
 
"This confirms what we have known for a long time. High demand areas like the West Midlands have had their budgets disproportionately cut compared to low crime areas.
 
"This is a damning indictment of the government's disastrous handling of police funding.
 
"The Home Office need to read this report thoroughly and change course.
 
"Instead of spouting out pre-rehearsed excuses, they should be honest with the public.
 
"Government funding has been significantly cut, especially for urban areas like the West Midlands.
 
"The government need to either increase funding for forces or be honest with the public over what they can now expect of police forces."
 
Key findings of the report included:
Central government funding to commissioners has fallen by 30% in real terms since 2010-11.
 
Police forces' experience of funding reductions varies and the forces that most rely on government funding have experienced the greatest cuts.
 
The formula for funding police forces does not take into account the full range of demands on police time.
 
While no police force has failed financially, there are signs emerging that forces are finding it harder to deliver an effective service.
 
Forces reduced the amount of money (reserves) set aside for specific costs or exceptional events by 20% between March 2015 and March 2017 after growing their reserves in previous years.
 
Forces reduced the total size of their workforce by 18% between March 2010 and March 2018 and the impact of this is unknown.
 
The Department's 'light touch' approach means forces' financial sustainability has not received proper attention.
 
The Department does not use data systematically to get assurance of the financial sustainability of the sector.
 
There are no common standards for measuring all demands for police services and their costs, and therefore no national picture of what forces need.
 
Key recommendations included:
 
The Department should develop a clearer ongoing understanding of whether police forces' funding is sufficient to support them to deliver an efficient and effective police service.
 
The Department should review the funding formula and adopt an approach to funding that takes account of forces' local circumstances more fairly. It could consider, for example, the proportion of funding that commissioners receive from local taxation, levels of demand, the relative efficiency of forces, and levels of financial resilience.
 
Tables from the report:

Police force

Total funding reduction: central government funding, council tax contributions and local council tax support grant (%)

Central government funding reduction, excluding local council tax support grant (%)

Northumbria

25

31

West Midlands

24

31

Merseyside

23

31

Greater Manchester

22

30

Metropolitan

22

29

Durham

22

31

South Yorkshire

21

30

West Yorkshire

21

30

Lancashire

20

31

Cleveland

20

30

Total England and Wales

19

30

Humberside

19

30

Staffordshire

19

29

Nottinghamshire

18

30

Derbyshire

18

30

Hertfordshire

18

29

Cumbria

17

30

Cheshire

17

30

Kent

17

30

Hampshire

17

30

Leicestershire

17

30

West Mercia

17

29

Avon and Somerset

17

29

Sussex

16

30

Bedfordshire

16

30

Devon and Cornwall

16

30

Suffolk

16

29

Thames Valley

15

30

Essex

15

30

Gwent

15

31

Wiltshire

15

30

Cambridgeshire

15

29

Northamptonshire

14

29

North Yorkshire

14

29

Lincolnshire

14

30

Warwickshire

14

29

Gloucestershire

14

29

Dorset

14

29

Norfolk

14

30

Dyfed-Powys

13

31

North Wales

12

31

South Wales

12

30

Surrey

11

29

 

Police Force

Central government funding: excluding local council tax support grant (%)

Local funding: council tax contributions and local council tax support grant (%)

Northumbria

81

19

West Midlands

80

20

Merseyside

75

25

Greater Manchester

73

27

South Yorkshire

72

28

West Yorkshire

71

29

Metropolitan

70

30

Durham

69

31

Cleveland

67

33

Lancashire

69

33

Humberside

65

35

Nottinghamshire

64

36

Total England and Wales

64

36

Bedfordshire

61

39

Leicestershire

60

40

Cheshire

60

40

Kent

60

40

Derbyshire

60

40

Staffordshire

59

41

Hampshire

58

42

Hertfordshire

58

42

South Wales

58

42

Cumbria

58

42

Gwent

58

42

Avon and Somerset

58

42

Sussex

58

42

Essex

58

42

Devon and Cornwall

57

43

Suffolk

56

44

Thames Valley

55

45

Cambridgeshire

55

45

Northamptonshire

54

46

West Mercia

54

46

Wiltshire

54

46

Warwickshire

52

48

Lincolnshire

52

48

Norfolk

52

48

Dyfed-Powys

50

50

Gloucestershire

50

50

North Wales

49

51

North Yorkshire

48

52

Dorset

48

52

Surrey

43

57