Monday, 02 November 2015 13:00

Concern over police funding plan

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Concern over police funding plan

CHANGES to police funding could see £.9.5m wiped off the budget for one of England's most rural counties.

The government has spent the summer consulting on the way that a key policing grant is allocated to police forces in England and Wales.

In Cumbria, £9.5m of funding could be lost from police funding, said Richard Rhodes, the county's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Together with anticipated further reductions in this autumn's Comprehensive Spending Review, cuts of £26m may have to be made during a four year period to 2020, he said.

"Cumbria is a unique place with its sparsely populated rural areas on the one hand and its large number of visitors on the other," said Mr Rhodes.

"Unfortunately, the proposed changes under the funding formula do not reflect this at all."

Mr Rhodes said he believed some aspects of the consultation were flawed in their methodology and failed to take into proper account the impact of rurality.

Cumbria had the same number of bars as other areas but attracted only half the funding under the proposals because there were twice as many hectares in the county, he said.

"We are being penalised for our rurality."

"Policing a rural area is difficult as we have to get around the Lake District with technology and vehicles often being more expensive in terms of cost and the number of people required.

"Given that about 85% of all expenditure for Cumbria Constabulary is wages and salaries, this is an area that will have to come under scrutiny."

Mr Rhodes said he had submitted a robust case to the Home Office in response to the consultation.

The Rural Services Network and the National Rural Crime Network have also voiced concern over the government proposals.

Mr Rhodes added: "I would ask that our points are listened to and considered with the relevance that they deserve."

Cumbria Chief Constable Jerry Graham said the county's police force had also submitted a strong consultation response.

"I am deeply concerned at the impact that these proposed cuts would have on policing in Cumbria, and I will be awaiting the outcome of this consultation process with great interest," he added.

"We have received a great deal of public support, which has been appreciated by our staff and officers who are continuing to provide a professional service in a challenging time."

The police force had worked hard to protect frontline officers and neighbourhood policing as far as possible in the face of previous cuts, as we know this approach helps to keep the county safe.

"I have worked closely with Mr Rhodes to prepare our response to the consultation, and I share his hopes that our views are listened to and taken into consideration when making final decisions."

The consultation closed on 15 September. The Home Office is considering all responses and will make an announcement in due course.

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