At long last, the Government’s reckless ignorance of the demands of policing and the funding needed to sustain it have been exposed, says the Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester.
Bev Hughes was speaking out as a report by the National Audit Office into the financial sustainability of police forces revealed that the Home Office does not have a clear picture of what individual forces need to meet local and national demands, or the funding required.
The way the Home Office distributes funding to police services is ineffective and fails to take into account demands on police time and the ability to raise funds locally through council tax, auditors have found.
“This report is disturbing but unsurprising,” says Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes.
“The findings echo what I and other PCCs have been telling the Government for some time, as budget cuts continue to impact on local policing and put community safety at risk.
“It beggars belief that ministers still do not understand, or are just plain ignorant of, the demands on policing. Focusing on crime statistics as an indicator of police demand is fundamentally flawed as it fails to consider the complexity and the day to day challenges faced by police officers, along with the impact on victims and communities.”
The report also criticises delays in overhauling the way police forces are funded by central Government, meaning police forces like Greater Manchester are disproportionately – and unfairly – affected by cuts to the central Government grant.
“In Greater Manchester we have transformed local policing to improve the service to the public. But whilst we have faced up to the challenge, lack of action and delays in key decisions by Government are impacting on our ability to deliver an effective police service. It simply isn’t good enough,” says the Deputy Mayor.
“Ministers hold the purse strings when it comes to police funding, and they are affectively holding communities to ransom. Greater Manchester is one of the hardest hit areas when it comes to Government cuts. GMP’s budget has been axed 22% since 2010, whilst leafy Surrey has only been cut by 11% - that cannot be right.”
Since 2010, the Government has cut policing budgets by £1.6bn nationwide with the loss of 20,000 police officers.
In Greater Manchester, the Government has cut £215m over the same period, and there are 2,000 fewer police officers.