Fair Deal for Policing

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones today called for a Fair Deal for Policing in place of the current "grossly unfair" system, in advance of next month's Autumn Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

He explains his campaign in a video statement:

Bob also launched a Facebook page where people can find out more about Fair Deal for Policing.

Speaking with Chief Constable Chris Sims to journalists assembled at Lloyd House, location of the new West Midlands Office for Policing and Crime, Bob said,

"I'm really glad to be sitting here with the Chief Constable to talk about probably the main challenge facing Chris and I as we work together for West Midlands Police.  Today I'm launching a campaign for fair funding for policing and community safety in the West Midlands.  I'm calling on the Chancellor in his autumn statement on 5 December to give the West Midlands a Fair Deal for Policing. 

I said in my campaign that I want to be able to restart police recruitment and end the compulsory retirement of police officers.  For this to happen, the Chancellor needs to do two things in his statement and the funding settlement that follows on 19 December.  First, he should to ensure that there are no further cuts in funding for West Midlands Police.  Second, he needs to address how the funding we receive from government is restricted by the "floors and ceilings" imposed on the funding formula.  This sounds like a bureaucratic subject, but it is critical to the future of policing and community safety in the West Midlands.

We have not had our full formula entitlement based on relative need and demand for many years because of what is called "grant damping".  Next year over 250 officers could leave West Midlands Police. If the funding formula was fairly applied, there would be enough funds for new recruits to fill all these posts.

The way "damping" is applied means that the West Midlands, with arguably the highest demand for policing and related services outside London, faced total cuts this year of over4%. At the other extreme in Surrey, with much lower crime, the cut was just1.5%. This disparity means that the West Midlands loses millions of pounds unfairly.

The government is consulting on how damping is applied, and how the funding formula works.  Now is the time for us to have our say.  This issue is made more critical because some funding is being transferred from local authorities and others to Police and Crime Commissioners like me.  The danger is that the same damping rules will apply.  This isn't money we've never had, this is money that is currently being spent in the West Midlands that we will lose to other lower crime areas.  For example, the funding for PCSOs in the West Midlands could be cut to the tune of 35 officers, while Surrey could get additional funding to recruit six more.  Overall, a further million pounds could be cut - money that currently pays for drug intervention programmes, work with gang members, PCSOs and CCTV systems.

A fairer application of the funding formula and grant damping could allow potential for modest recruitment to begin next year and for compulsory retirements to end.  It would mean that vital crime prevention could continue.  We wouldn't be growing the size of the Force - merely reducing the loss of officers.  The Fire Service, for example, has an approach that better reflects need and demand, and this is the direction we should move in.

However, if damping remains in place as now, and worse still, if there are further cuts in our settlement, then our position becomes even more difficult.

I will be writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking him to use his Autumn Statement on December 5, and to the Home Secretary, to give the West Midlands a fair deal for policing. I have also asked all of the West Midlands Members of Parliament and councillors to support my campaign. Businesses and residents can lobby and support this campaign, including writing to the Chancellor with me.  I wish there was more time, but there's only a few days until the autumn statement and we need to get our message across.  To allow everyone to have their say quickly and cheaply, I've also set up a Facebook page for the campaign, which is an easy way for the public to find out about the issue, and add their comments.  Information will be available in police station front desks too."