Reform bid aids fight for police funding

Police officers at their passing out parade
Police officers at their passing out parade

A planned reform of the ‘out of date’ police funding model is likely to benefit cash strapped Bedforshire Police, the Biggleswade Chronicle understands.

Policing minister Mike Penning announced plans on Tuesday to rehaul the way in which the government funds the 43 forces across England and Wales, to put more of an emphasis on population levels of each constabulary.

Currently the government uses the ten-year-old Police Allocation Formula (PAF), which Mr Penning has branded “complex, opaque and out of date”.

A consultation into the proposal to make the £7.8 billion in police funding “fairer and more transparent” has been launched.

An additional announcement that the “underlying characteristics” of each force will also be examined is likely to be music to the ears of PCC Olly Martins, who has repeatedly argued that Beds Police has “serious urban challenges” but is funded as if it is a “small rural force”.

Mr Penning’s review comes a week after a Home Office taskforce concluded a “fact-finding exercise” at Beds Police HQ, which was organised in the aftermath of the overwhelming ‘no’ in the council tax referendum held on May 7.

A ‘yes’ vote would have raised an extra £4.5m a year for the force.

A source close to Beds Police told the Biggleswade Chronicle that reform to PAF could ease the force’s financial woes.

They said: “What is likely to happen is that the government will give the force a bigger slice of a smaller cake.

“Other forces will be clobbered by this (PAF reform).”

After voters rejected the proposed 15.8 percent police precept increase it was announced that the force would have to embark on a recruitment freeze in the next 18 to 24 months and a reduction of up to 135 police officers.

However extra funds received through PAF reform could reverse this.

The source added: “The net effect is that the force would probably be able to stand still on officer numbers, which is still a lot better than what was anticipated.”

On plans for the rehaul of PAF, Mr Penning said: “Police reform is working.

“Over the last five years, frontline services have been protected, public confidence in the police has gone up and crime has fallen by more than a quarter, according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales.

“However, if we want policing in this country to be the best it can be, then we must reform further, and that includes putting police funding on a long-term, sustainable footing.”