Suffolk MP highlights ‘urgent need’ for police funding review to spare taxpayers from ‘disproportionate’ costs
PUBLISHED: 23:12 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 23:29 07 February 2018
Suffolk taxpayers are being forced to pay over the odds for policing due to an unfair funding formula, which has left the system at “breaking point”, an MP has warned.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous spoke in the House of Commons debate on the Police Grant yesterday when he urged the Government to review its funding “without further delay and as quickly as possible”.
Mr Aldous said he recognised the national challenges facing policing. However he also highlighted the “significant pressures” on Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, which saw him add 6.8% to his share of the council tax precept for the coming financial year.
“Suffolk Constabulary is the force with the highest case load per officer in the country, at 150 per year, and yet it receives one of the lowest funding settlements,” he added. “A disproportionately high percentage of the county’s police funding is received from the council tax precept, which at 42.6% is one of the highest in the country and compares to a national average for England of 32%.”
Mr Aldous highlighted specific challenges facing Suffolk police including the “county lines” problem, involving drug gangs and also said its older population raised particular issues.
He said Suffolk was an “efficient force”, which had produced the “highest proportional savings” of all in the county. But he also noted rises in crime, including cases of domestic abuse and serious sex offences.
Mr Aldous pointed to the £2.15m cost of searching for the missing RAF airman Corrie Mckeague, who disappeared on a night out in Bury St Edmunds. He urged the Home Office to reimburse Suffolk police this cost.
The MP also highlighted last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court, which prevented Suffolk police from appealing the decision it should pay for the cost of match day policing of Ipswich Town FC’s home games.
He questioned whether it was “morally right” for the taxpayer to be paying for the policing of sporting events and warned it could have ramifications for forces across the country.
Against this backdrop, he said there was an “urgent need” for the police funding formula to be reviewed.
“Suffolk is traditionally a well run rural force that is now having to deal with a wide variety of 21st Century, metropolitan challenges on an increasingly stretched budget,” he added.
“The unique nature of Suffolk with the challenge of county lines and demographics of older people mean that policing in the county is under increased pressure.
“It’s no longer reasonable for such a high percentage of the policing budget to come from Suffolk county taxpayers.
“The situation needs to be addressed as soon as possible and I urge the government to instigate the funding review without further delay and as quickly as possible.”
Mr Passmore thanked Mr Aldous for his comments.
“Obviously, I was disappointed with the Home Office settlement that is why our campaign for a fairer funding settlement must continue,” he added.
“We’ve got to make sure this injustice is rectified.”
Policing Minister Nick Hurd said the proposals would increase police funding by £450m in 2018/19 – and up £1billion from 2015/16.