Commissioner rallys support in ‘perfect storm’ funding threat to police (23 Nov 2018)

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has today (23/11) written to MPs across the county highlighting the serious funding threats currently facing policing and the damaging consequences it presents for the service and communities.

PCC Mark Burns-Williamson is calling for their support in raising the issues directly with Government, ahead of the Provisional Police Funding Settlement, anticipated on the 6 December 2018.

Recent Government changes announced to employer pension contributions alone are expected to equate to a net cost and gap of £6.6m in 2019-20 in West Yorkshire.

Beyond 2020, it is anticipated that the figure would rise to around £18m annually in the county, potentially representing 400 fewer officers in West Yorkshire if Government funding is not forthcoming to cover such significant increases.

Already, since 2010 West Yorkshire Police have received budget cuts of over £140m at the cost of over 2000 police officers and staff.

Click here to read the letter in full

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson says we are potentially heading for a perfect storm of continual police underfunding:

"The price we will pay for an under resourced police service in West Yorkshire is I believe too high, with which the public wholeheartedly agree, but appears to always fall on deaf ears in Government.

"Our dedicated, hardworking police officers and staff are under enormous pressure, at times unable to take rest days, and we are seeing the stress and the strain on our police officers and staff with steadily rising levels of sickness.

"This is not acceptable in itself but also has serious implications for the workforce going forward both in recruitment and retention.

"The police's ability to combat crime and properly protect the public here in West Yorkshire is often under huge strain and the cost to our communities is being seen, for example, in the rise in response times affecting the services people should expect, leading inevitably to an increase in crime, erosion of Neighbourhood Policing and a decrease in confidence levels.

"Likewise, there is a clear link between cuts to police resources and the increases we've seen in crime and violent crime across the UK, as acknowledged by the recent the National Audit Office, House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, Home Affairs Select Committee and even Official Home Office research and reports.

"I have helped to drive efficiencies wherever possible within West Yorkshire Police and have used our dwindling reserves to help transform and invest in new technology, capital programmes and smarter ways of working. However, further additional savings will be very hard to achieve with such earmarked reserves forming part of the force's legal obligation to hold contingency monies, set against threat, harm and risk assessment which is undertaken every year.

"I have had to use £15m from our reserves in the last two years just to balance the books. By 2022 most of West Yorkshire's reserves will have been spent or committed to existing obligations such as capital build programmes and further technology investment. All reserves spending is 'one off' by nature, and not a sustainable option for funding front line policing into the future, unless the Government strategy is to drive policing into financial ruin like Northamptonshire County Council and a few others now teetering on the brink."

"I agree with PCC's being given more flexibility to raise the police element of the council tax, which I did last year, but as I have stated in previous years, locally it will not reap the amount of revenue other areas can afford with over 60% of properties in West Yorkshire being in lowest Council Tax bands A and B.

"In any case the extra monies on the Police Precept (£12 on a Band D) that I raised last year to help re-build our Neighbourhood Policing Teams is now in danger of all but being wiped out because of the millions of Government/Treasury shortfalls announced, which totally undermine local taxpayers and my ability to set a sustainable budget for policing, which we are crying out for.

"I am committed to doing everything I can to support West Yorkshire Police working with MPs and our partners, but without a sustained genuine increase in central funding, the burden of tax is increasingly being put onto our local tax payers affecting those who are less able to pay and is quite frankly a sleight of hand by Government who should be putting policing much higher up their list of priorities."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019