- Meeting of Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel, Friday, 7th September, 2018 11.00 am (Item 15.)
Anyone who works or lives in the Thames Valley can ask a question at meetings of the Police and Crime Panel, at which a 20 minute session will be designated for hearing from the public.
If you’d like to participate, please read the Public Question Time Scheme and submit your questions by email to email@example.com at least three working days in advance of the meeting.
The Scrutiny Officer for the Panel reported that as a result of increased publicity for this Panel meeting, several public questions had been submitted to the Panel for consideration. However, most of them did not meet the criteria for consideration by the Panel as they were operational policing questions and could only be answered by the Chief Constable. The Panel agreed that these questions would be submitted to the relevant Cabinet Member of the local authority and to the local area commander of the area concerned, for responses.
The following public question was submitted:
"I note that the Police budget has been cut by 20% since 2010 and there is more to come. There has been a recent upsurge in crime in our rural area and how is this further cut in the Police budget going to affect our local policing in the future. Also I understand the PCC was endeavouring to recover costs for extra security roles covered within the Thames Valley in order to mitigate the considerable impact on the budget."
In response, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) reported that there had been very large cuts to police funding over the last few years, with in real terms Thames Valley making £100m worth of cuts. This has had an impact on police numbers on the ground and has had a bearing on the rising crime rates throughout the country, although the proportionate increase in crime in the Thames Valley region, was substantially less than the rest of the country. In comparison to similar sized forces, the crime rate increase in Thames Valley has been lower. With increased cuts in funding it was inevitable that this would impact on how well the police performed.
In relation to the extra security roles which were carried out by Thames Valley Police; the visit by the President of the United States of America, and the Royal Wedding, a large number of police officers were used on these operations which did take them away from their normal duties.
The PCC was assured that the costs incurred for the President’s Visit would be reimbursed.
The rules on other big events was different, the costs incurred had to exceed over 1% of the annual Force budget before a claim could be submitted, and for Thames Valley, this equated to approximately £4m.
A Member asked if the PCC had made any representations to the Home Office regarding the scale of the cuts to police funding and the need to address this and improve the Criminal Justice System. The PCC replied that representation had been made by him, by the Chief Constable, and by other PCCs. There was a comprehensive spending review coming up and there had been a case put forward for increased funding. The formula on how funding was allocated was inequitable. Thames Valley Police received around £160 per head of population which was made up for Government Grant and Council Tax. The big northern Cities such as Manchester and Liverpool received substantially more funding than the Thames Valley. Merseyside Police received around £200 per head of population, with both Manchester and the West Midlands receiving around £180-190 per head of population. That difference of £30- £40 multiplied by the population of the Thames Valley of around 2.3m, would amount to around £70-90m, which would fund up to nearly 2,000 extra police officers.
The recent newspaper articles on police on the streets and the increase in crime, failed to take account of this funding discrepancy. In addition last year’s terrorist attacks have made it politically impossible to address this inequity at this stage.
A Member referred to the new Home Secretary who appeared to be advocating increased funding for the police and welcomed this. Thanks were passed onto the PCC and the Chief Constable regarding the excellent policing of the Anti-President Trump protests which took place in the Thames Valley and it was asked how many other Police Forces were involved in the policing of the visit. In addition reference was made to the representations which had been made against the visit, based on the actual cost which would be involved.
The PCC reported that Thames Valley Police had no say in the detail of where the President visited but carried out their policing responsibilities to the utmost of the capability of the Force. The Chief Constable reported that there were around 20 different Forces who were engaged in various parts of the President’s visit.
The Chairman commented that the Panel would continue to urge the PCC to make representations to the Government for better funding as policing was now getting to a critical level in the Thames Valley and the PCC had the full support of the Panel in asking for a fairer funding solution.