Cleveland Police Chief Constable 'outraged' at Government funding announcement which could hit Council Tax bills

A chief constable says he is 'outraged' after the Government announced its latest funding for police.

Friday, 14th December 2018, 8:43 am
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 1:33 pm
Cleveland Police Chief Constable Mike Veale.

Cleveland Police Chief Constable Mike Veale says there is a 'grave issue' with the Government funding formula, which is seeing forces in the south with less crime getting a rise in grants.

It comes after he called on the Government to 'give us the tools and we will do the job' and said cuts have been too deep and for too long.

Cleveland's Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.

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A BBC report last month revealed there were no police officers in Hartlepool to respond to emergencies at one point on a Saturday night due to all those on duty deployed elsewhere including having to transport suspects to Middlesbrough.

Mr Veale said: “I am outraged that once again my ability to provide appropriate policing resources has been significantly hampered.

“There is a grave issue with the police funding formula that disadvantages our communities hardest. This has been demonstrated again in the settlement which shows millions more going to parts of the country, particularly in the south, with significantly lower levels of crime and deprivation than Cleveland.

“My colleagues at the Police Federation have described the announcement as putting a ‘sticking plaster over a broken bone’ and I completely agree. The funding formula is broken and soon even the plaster will not be adequate to hold together the shattered financial position of British policing.

“I hope that those with influence across the country will join me in calling for urgent action around the funding formula. This cannot go on.”

It comes as the three Police and Crime Commissioners for the North East have slammed the Home Secretary for increasing council tax bills to fund policing, instead of the Government providing a fair funding settlement for the communities of Cleveland, Durham & Darlington and Northumbria.

Residents across the North East of England are facing a significant increase to the policing element of council tax as a consequence of the Government announcing that PCCs will be allowed to increase the precept by up to £24 per year for a Band D property. If this increase does not go ahead, it could mean a funding cut for the regions three forces.

The three PCCs are once again demanding that the Home Secretary Sajid Javid stops making hard working families pay for policing, when it is the duty of the Government to provide effective policing and keep our communities safe – a point with which PCCs from all political parties agree.

In simple terms, the Government funding package for each force assumes that PCCs will increase the precept up to £24. If the PCCs don't it will result in a cut to the funding received to pay for policing in the North East.

They say North East police forces are some of the busiest in the country and yet continue to be underfunded by central government, having all seen funding losses of more than 30% resulting in almost 2,000 fewer police officers on the streets of Northumbria, County Durham, Darlington and Cleveland since 2010.

Cleveland PCC Barry Coppinger said: "I do not want to increase the precept for residents in Cleveland, but under this settlement I am left with very little choice and it simply isn’t fair.

"Once again, residents in the most deprived areas are being asked to foot the bill for the country’s underfunded police forces, as the Government once again fail to account for the increasing cost of policing and levels of inflation.

"I will continue to lobby the Government and push for a fairer deal for all of our forces. Cleveland has some of the highest levels of crime and deprivation in the country, yet our overall level of funding increase for next year is £7.2m and Surrey’s is by £17.6m – over £10m more. How can an area with 60% higher level of recorded crime be treated so unfairly?”.

Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner for Durham and Darlington, Ron Hogg, added: “The Government has not increased the amount it pays for policing – it has put all the burden on council tax payers.

"In areas like mine, the majority of properties are in Council Tax Band A, which means that those with the lowest incomes are being asked to pay the largest part of the increase. I would compare that to areas like Surrey, where there are many more properties in the top council tax band, lived in by people with very significantly higher incomes”.

The PCCs will consult with their communities to find out what they think. None of the regions PCCs have taken a decision on this matter yet, this will happen after the consultation closes.

In the meantime the three PCCs will seek an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary, speaking up for local residents and demanding change to the funding formula.