Forces will continue to feel the pressure of ongoing austerity
That’s the message from PFEW Chair Steve White following today’s announcement of the proposed police budget allocation for 2018/19.
Once again there is likely to be a range of reactions from forces across England and Wales with allocations varying throughout but whilst additional funding of £450 million sounds impressive, much relies on sourcing funds from existing budgets locally and increasing council tax precepts.
Steve White, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Finally an admission that our police service is struggling and needs more – but forces will continue to feel the pressure of ongoing austerity following today’s proposed police budget allocation for 2018/19. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction but we are not looking at an increase of £450 million in real terms so there is an element of smoke and mirrors.
“Radical reform is needed and needed now if the service is to make more efficient use of its already very limited resources. I am unconvinced this settlement provides any real incentive for forces to collaborate better and for there to be national consistent solutions to the policing issues of today and tomorrow. Investment in IT must happen now under national governance and the NPCC and all PCC’s must quickly agree priorities and start to deliver.”
For years policing has picked up the pieces for partners across the board. This has taken a huge toll on the service and on individuals, as evidenced in our welfare report. Increased demands and fewer numbers are having an impact on police officer welfare; this in turn means they are struggling to deliver the policing service to the public that they would wish to. Only improved funding and a clear plan for how this will be spent will pull it back from the brink.
Specifically, funding is urgently needed to fund a better IT infrastructure to enable increased efficiencies. Frontline officers need extra support and issuing Tasers will help. The public have indicated they are happy with this deployment and police officers want to routinely carry them, but it is unfair and unrealistic to expect chief officers to divert funds from other areas to pay for them and it is therefore an area of improvement which becomes impossible without additional funding, rather than diverting funds from elsewhere.