Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen has welcomed a new national report which warns the current police funding system is not “fit for purpose”.
In his annual State of Policing report, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, Andy Cooke, said the present system for allocating police funding was ‘well out of date’ and no longer reflected modern demands on the police.
Citing evidence from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Mr Cooke said the existing formula did not properly reflect differences in need and was not set up to tackle inequalities.
He said any reform would likely involve removing funding from some better-funded forces to those disadvantaged by the current system but added this would be ‘the right thing to do’.
Responding to the report, County Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen said: “I strongly welcome Mr Cooke’s comments and the urgency with which he has called for change.
“Since I was elected, I have campaigned rigorously for a rethink of the current funding system which has penalised forces like Durham, with lower population growth and deep-rooted socio-economic problems, for far too long.
“It has left us with significant ground to catch up financially to level up with our peers and properly plan for the future.
“This year, the situation only worsened, with no extra funding from our central grant to tackle spiralling costs and inflation – and no capital grant – adding further pressure to what is already a tight ship.
“As Mr Cooke rightly points out, forces like Durham have their hands tied and cannot simply ‘plug the gap’ with extra Council Tax revenue because of a higher proportion of households falling into the lower category, Band A.
“So far, this approach has only served to widen the gulf further between the richest and poorest forces and could not sustain future increases in demand.
“It is an issue I have discussed with local MPs and have raised repeatedly.
“The current system of funding does not adequately take into account deprivation which is a key determinant of crime and demand.
“Further disadvantages are evident in police strength. Unlike other areas which have seen record levels of new officers join under the Uplift programme, we still have 166 less officers than we did 13 years ago – despite having high crime demand.
“This is in stark contrast to areas like Yorkshire and Surrey which have seen additional officers given to them compared to where they were in 2010.
“Against the odds, Durham continues to be rated among the best in the country for performance but there is a limit to what we can further achieve without the money behind us to build for the future.
“Policing is radically different to what it was over twenty years ago when the current system of funding was designed.
“Whilst I accept that a new formula may hurt those forces who have been vastly better off under the existing deal, it remains the only means of evening out government grant which has failed to keep up with inflation of changing demands which is needed to deliver a consistent level of service across the country.”