‘Travesty’ of funding offer says PCC Ollie

PCC Olly Martins
PCC Olly Martins

A small rise in Bedfordshire Police funding does not take into account the issues the forvce faces, says Beds Police and crime Commissioner Olly Martins.

The force found out today that it will received a 0.4% rise in funding as part of the provisional police settlement.

Mr Martins said: “Today’s settlement is not as bad as expected, but the amount of grant from the government has fallen compared to last year so the Home Office’s claim about protecting Bedfordshire Police funding depends on council tax payers finding the difference.

“Nor does this take account of cost pressures in relation to national insurance changes, pay rises and price inflation. We will still have to find £5.8million of savings to balance the budget, down from a previously anticipated figure of £7.5million.

“I wrote to the Home Secretary urging her to spare Bedfordshire from the same flat ‘across- the-board’ grant cut faced by other forces because of our unique circumstances. At just 169 officers per 100,000 population compared to the average of 232, we have one of the lowest levels of policing compared to other forces, yet some of the top levels of high harm crime such as the 4th highest level of gun crime.

“Sadly my appeal once again fell on deaf ears, meaning our already anaemic thin blue line will be stretched thinner still.

“It is not just my advice that the Home Secretary is ignoring. This summer the National Audit Office criticised the Home Office for making the same percentage cuts to all forces without understanding the impact in individual cases. This appears to have been ignored and Bedfordshire’s grant has been cut regardless.

“Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary have highlighted doubts about the financial viability of Bedfordshire Police, in addition to identifying inadequacies in the force’s response to protecting vulnerable people, where the inspectors acknowledge there is an underlying issue with funding and lack of resources. This too has been ignored and our grant has been cut once again.

“Chief Constable Jon Boutcher advises me that Bedfordshire needs 300 more officers to be on a par with those forces that face similar crime and policing challenges to ours. The government’s failure to address our woefully inadequate funding and instead cut us further means that our county still is under-policed compared to other areas. This in turn means local tax payers are being short-changed by the government and as a consequence Bedfordshire Police is unable to do the sort of activities that are commonplace elsewhere. In London there are still police officers dedicated to schools, and building the vital relationship with young people and their parents, whereas in Bedfordshire every school in the county is covered by one incredibly stretched member of police staff.

“Sadly, regardless of the shifting expectations about what today’s announcement would bring, Bedfordshire Police ends the day being worse not better funded and that’s a total travesty.”