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Police Funding Formula

Volume 600: debated on Monday 12 October 2015

1. What modelling has been conducted by her Department on the potential effect on individual police forces of proposed changes to the police funding formula. (901481)

How funding should be allocated to the police in future is a complex and important matter, and we conducted a detailed analytical review before launching a public consultation on reform of the current funding arrangements. We have considered carefully the responses received from that consultation, and my right hon. Friend the Policing Minister has written to all police and crime commissioners and chief constables with refinements to the proposed model in the light of the feedback received.

In 2013-14, just 22% of the 7.3 million emergency and priority incidents that the police responded to were crime-related. The police are being asked to shoulder the workload caused by cuts in other Departments, and the Public Accounts Committee has stated that the Home Office has no data about that added burden. How will the Home Office work with other Departments to ensure that the impact of spending decisions is not borne wholly by the police service?

The Home Office is already working with other Departments to ensure that, if matters are better the responsibility of other Departments, those other Departments take them on board. A good example is what we have been doing for people with mental health needs. We have worked with the Department of Health, and it has provided funding to ensure more places of safety that are not police cells. We have significantly reduced the use of police cells for those in mental health crisis or with mental health problems. As a result resources have been released for the police and, crucially, there are much better outcomes for people with mental health problems and issues.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is important for police forces to spend their money effectively, and that the police innovation fund helps them to do that? Does she share my delight that Kent police have decided to issue every front-line officer with a body-worn camera that increases the effectiveness of police patrolling, as well as helping to keep officers safe?

My right hon. Friend makes a good point, and I commend him for the work on the innovation fund that he did when he was Policing Minister. This is an important development and he is right to welcome and commend Kent police for what they are doing with body-worn video cameras. That is an important step forward. We are also looking at the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to ensure that every part of the system can support the use of evidence from body-worn video cameras. I am sure the whole House recognises that that important step forward is of benefit to the police but also to victims.

Chief Constable Steve Finnigan of Lancashire police recently described the cuts to policing as “nothing short of madness”. Although I welcome the Government’s decision to consult on the funding formula, and the Policing Minister’s ability to engage with local forces, under the proposed model a constabulary such as Leicestershire could lose up to £700,000 a year, while others would gain. Does the Home Secretary agree that it is time to make the case to the Chancellor that the Home Office should be a protected Department because it deals with the security and safety of the British public?

I am interested in the right hon. Gentleman’s question. In his capacity as Chair of the Home Affairs Committee he has previously questioned the funding formula for policing, and indicated that an alternative formula might be a better way forward. That is what we are doing; we are trying to find a formula that will work across police forces, and that is why we held and responded to a public consultation. As I said earlier, my right hon. Friend the Policing Minister has written to police and crime commissioners and chief constables with a revision of that formula, and he will discuss the matter with them.

Northamptonshire police have been particularly innovative in finding joint operational and cost-saving initiatives with the local fire service, but it faces a particular challenge involving violent crime. How might those two important factors be factored into the new police funding formula?

I welcome my hon. Friend’s comments on Northamptonshire police, who have indeed been very innovative. They have been at the forefront of work to join together the police force and the fire authority to ensure savings and a better service for the people of the county of Northamptonshire. We are trying to adopt a funding formula that is simpler than the previous one, that is fair across the board and that people can look at and understand; a funding formula where people can appreciate why the elements are in there. That cannot be said of the current funding formula.