“Now is not the time to be pushing policing cost increases onto cash-strapped bill payers,” warns a strongly worded letter sent to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, from Police and Crime Commissioners up and down the country.
With growing calls for the nation’s police forces to be fully funded as the cost-of-living crisis bites, the letter calls on the Government to step in with additional funding to prevent under-pressure households having to carry the financial burden through their taxes.
Police forces, such as Merseyside which suffered more than £110m of cuts during a decade of austerity, are facing extreme pressure due to no budget flexibility and increased demand. The rises in utility and fuel costs, which are uncapped for police forces and are also compounding problems.
At the same time, households are facing unprecedented cost pressures and too many will struggle to cope as they are already on low or fixed incomes. This makes it inappropriate to continue increasing the burden on the council taxpayer, through the police ‘precept’ prompting PCCs from Merseyside, Northumbria, Durham, West Midlands and South Yorkshire to come together with their urgent calls for action.
As well as more funding, the letter also urges Government to bring in a Police Precept Freeze Grant for 2023/24 – another means of helping ease the unfair burden being piled onto tax payers.
The calls come following Suella Braverman’s letter to all police chiefs in England and Wales in September, which told them of the government’s expectation that they cut homicide and other serious crime, and neighbourhood crime by 20 per cent. The request caused widespread anger across hardworking policing communities who strive to cut all crime and are desperate for more resources to help them get on with the job.
Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said, “The current cost-of-living crisis is causing people across Merseyside to worry about how they will feed their families and heat their homes this winter.
“Yet, as Police Commissioners, we are being expected to turn to these people to help fund the police service that they need to fight crime in their neighbourhoods and keep their loved ones safe. This simply isn’t fair.
The Commissioner added, “It is the first responsibility of any government to protect and safeguard its citizens, but after years of austerity we are now facing the prospect of going into next year with worsening police finances at a time of rising demand – it’s unacceptable.
“Through this letter, we are appealing directly to the Home Secretary to do the right thing and make sure all police services are fully funded, without pushing the burden on to those who can least afford it.
“The last thing we want to do as PCCs is ask hard-pressed local people to contribute more, but sadly we will be left with no choice if the Government doesn’t step up and give our police service the resources it needs to keep our communities safe.”
The PCCs who have all signed the letter are:
- Emily Spurrell – Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside
- Kim McGuinness – Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria
- Alison Lowe – Deputy Mayor of West Yorkshire for Policing and Crime
- Sophie Linden – Deputy Mayor of London for Policing and Crime
- Bev Hughes – Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester for Policing and Crime
- Jeff Cuthbert – Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent
- Alan Billings – Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire
- Alun Michael – Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales
- Joy Allen – Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham
- Simon Foster – Police and Crime Commissioner for West Midlands
- Andy Dunbobbin – Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales
The PCCs await a response from the Home Secretary.
Image: Emily Spurrell – Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside