Concern over rural policing levels

Concerns over rural policing levels have been raised with Chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of this month's Budget.

East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke met the Chancellor to highlight community concerns about how police allocated their manpower in his constituency.

Mr Clarke also requested that whatever extra money existed in the public finances should be made available to support the police.

In addition, Mr Clarke has written to communities secretary Sajid Javid to ask that the issue be looked at as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement in December.

Mr Clarke said: “People in East Cleveland want the Force to find a way of delivering a greater presence in their town and villages.

“I believe that if there’s headroom for more money for the Police, it should be delivered.”

Fairer funding

It came as Cleveland police and crime commissioner Barry Coppinger called on politicians of all parties to join him in campaigning for fairer funding for the police.

In a letter to Cleveland’s six MPs, Mr Coppinger outlined how Government funding to Cleveland Police has been cut by £39m – or 36% – in real terms over the past seven years.

This has resulted in the loss of 450 police officers and 50 PCSOs.

With Government indicating a standstill settlement for next year, Cleveland Police effectively faced a further cut due to inflation and other rising costs, said Mr Coppinger.

If the situation remained unchanged, the force would have to find a further £2.5m-£3m savings – the equivalent of 60 police officer reductions each year, he said.

The force faced further pressure due to the area’s low council tax base.

“This is as serious a situation as I have faced in the five years since I was first elected commissioner” said Mr Coppinger.

“In that time I have attended over 500 community meetings.

Overwhelming message

“The overwhelming message I receive is that the public are full of admiration for the excellent job of work police officers and staff do – they just wish there were more of them and I totally agree.”

Mr Coppinger said he would continue to lobby the government for fairer funding.

Mr Clarke said he wasn't “blind to the consequences” of any additional funding on public finances, but argued that money wasn’t “the be all and end all” when it came to rural policing.

“It’s also about how we distribute our police and the current formula is overwhelmingly skewed towards urban areas,” he said.

Cleveland Police had a budget of £122m and the fourth highest ratio of officers to population in England and Wales, said Mr Clarke.

But rural people were not being unreasonable in wanting a couple of dozen more officers to strengthen police presence, he added.


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