Lord Paddick: The government's police funding scam is criminal
This Conservative Government is putting all of us at greater risk by ignoring advice of senior police leaders, says former Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lord Paddick.
The government announced on Tuesday that police funding in 2018/19 would increase by “up to £450m”. In fact, direct Government funding of the police service fell by 25% in real terms between 2010/11 and 2015/16 and what the government has just announced is a further real-terms cut in police funding.
Police funding is made up of Central Government grant (about 70%) and money raised through council tax by Police and Crime Commissioners (about 30%). In order to maintain the Central Government grant at current levels, taking into account inflation currently running at 3.1%, would require an increase of £239m. What the government announced this week was an increase of £50m for counter-terrorism policing, a real-terms cut in Government funding for the police of £189m.
At the same time the Government announced that they would allow Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to increase the amount every household pays for policing by a maximum of £12 a year but there is no guarantee PCCs will want to impose such a tax hike on hardworking families who are ‘just about managing’. Such an increase would be on top of any increase in council tax to pay for other local services such as social care, a regressive tax increase that hits the poorest hardest. In a series of tweets designed for each police force area, the government heralded the millions of pounds of additional funding the local police could be getting, deliberately designed to distort the fact the Government direct grant has yet again been cut in real terms.
An additional £130m is to be made available for ‘exceptional costs’ such as the increase in reassurance policing in the aftermath of the terrorist incidents in London, and in Manchester when the terrorist threat level was increased. As the term implies, this is money that has already been spent and will only partly fund the shortfall. Part of this £130m is for capital expenditure that is mandated by the Home Office.
Police services up and down the country are struggling to provide an adequate service, with London’s Metropolitan Police Service facing cumulative cuts approaching £1bn. Not only is this resulting in unreasonable pressure on operational police officers but also the demise of community policing. Norfolk Police are doing away with Police Community Support Officers, seen by many as the bridge between the police and communities, altogether. Not only does community policing provide visible reassurance on our streets, it provides valuable community intelligence that is vital in the fight against terrorism.
Yet again, this Tory Government is ignoring the advice of senior police leaders and putting all of us at greater risk. Crimes such as online and bank card fraud are not captured by traditional crime statistics and are now estimated to amount to almost half of all crime. Overall crime is changing, not falling. Crimes of violence are on the increase as the police presence on our streets and in our public spaces is withdrawn. Yet another cut in police budgets is not just reckless, it’s criminal.
Lord Paddick is a Liberal Democrat peer in the House of Lords and is former Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Met Police