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Police Funding

Volume 681: debated on Monday 28 September 2020

The Government have announced a police funding settlement that sets out the biggest increase in funding for the policing system in a decade. In total, we are increasing the funding available to the policing system by more than £1 billion this year.

Rural and wildlife crime sadly continues to affect our local communities. Theft of farm machinery, burglary, animal theft and cruelty, antisocial behaviour and vandalism are just some of the issues facing our rural areas. Cumbria has the excellent Cumbria Farm Watch scheme, a partnership between people and Cumbria police. What reassurances can my hon. Friend give my constituents in Penrith and The Border that the Government are supporting the police and communities in the fight against rural and wildlife crime?

As a rural Member, I know exactly the type of concern to which my hon. Friend refers; it is shared by people in my constituency. Obviously, the provision of significant extra numbers of police officers to Cumbria police will help the chief constable in deliberations about where to put those resources. Although that is an operational matter, one would hope that some of it will be devoted to rural crime. I certainly hope that will happen in Hampshire. On wildlife crime, I am pleased to report that we are putting £136,000 into the National Wildlife Crime Unit so that it can continue its valuable work.

The extra policing that my hon. Friend mentioned is very good news. In Wiltshire, we are thrilled because we are getting more than 100 new police officers for Wiltshire police and even more police and community support officers to help with all the crime we import from Hampshire. Does my hon. Friend share my concern that, so often, funding formulas designed in London have urban places in mind and sometimes that sadly applies to police funding formulas as well? Will he update the House on any work that is being done to review the police funding formula to ensure that rural areas are properly treated?

I am grateful to my constituency neighbour for his question, though not for the aspersions he casts on my fellow county residents. I thought crime flowed in the other direction. Nevertheless, my hon. Friend is right that the formula, while the best available funding formula we have, is quite old now and needs to be reviewed. It contains several indicators that skew funding towards urban areas and in the next couple of years we have to reflect on the fact that crime has changed and that rural areas are experiencing more crime than they have perhaps been used to. Doubtless the Home Secretary and I will work on some form of funding formula review before the next election.