PCC Olly Martins: Home Office ‘chickened out’ of police funding reforms

Beds police and crime commissioner Olly Martins has claimed that the government ‘chickened out’ of police funding reform after he was told how much his force will receive under a revised structure.

Friday, 9th October 2015, 10:39 am
PCC Olly Martins

Beds Police’s share of the national police grant will remain at 0.9%– meaning that an end to the force’s dire financial position is not yet in sight.

Earlier this week Mr Martins unveiled plans to reduce the amount of PCSOs from 108 to 46 and the numbers of investigation officers from 44 to 10.

At the time he added his hope that the loss could be avoided through an improved grant from the government.

PCC Olly Martins with PCSO Narzia Ahmed

However following the release of today’s figures the force will still need to find £17.5 million in savings over the next four years.

Mr Martins said: “The Conservative government appears set on playing politics not only with Bedfordshire’s policing but also with national security, and all because they don’t want to risk losing the 2016 London mayoral election.

“The government is about to totally chicken out of reforming the police funding formula, which would have required a serious redistribution of resources away from the Met and towards underfunded forces like Bedfordshire.

“If they proceed on the basis of their published figures the government needs to be very clear that, if there is a serious terrorist incident involving extremists connected with Luton, the responsibility is theirs and not that of the ridiculously overstretched and under-resourced Bedfordshire Police.”

He added: “According to the latest figures, in Bedfordshire we have 163 police officers per 100,000 population.

“This is way below the national average of 226 and less than half the Met’s 381.

“Yet in Luton we are responsible for policing an area that has many of the characteristics of an inner London borough, but with a fraction of the police resource.

“Luton is therefore clearly under-policed and the knock-on impact is that the remainder of the county is exceptionally under-policed.

“The Chief Constable says we would need 300 more officers to be on a par with other forces, but the government looks set to send our police strength in the opposite direction.”

Mr Martins continued: “Earlier this year the spending watchdog the National Audit Office criticised the Home Office for not understanding the impact of its funding reductions on individual forces and not knowing what a failing police force actually looks like. Because we have already restructured, collaborated and cut to the bone to make savings,

“I fear Bedfordshire may be about to find out what ‘unviable’ means for a police force.

“The Home Office is undertaking a brief period of further consultation on its formula review proposals until 30 October.

“I am urging those concerned about dwindling police strength in the county to lobby their Member of Parliament, even at this eleventh hour”.