A police boss has accused the Government of trying to con the public with its claims of a £450 million boost to police funding – with the North Wales force facing a real terms cut of £2.1 million.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones says the standstill budget imposed on forces across the country instead amounts to a three per cent cut because of inflation.
Mr Jones, a former police inspector himself, said that £270 million of the £450 million claimed increase was accounted for by the Government allowing forces across the country to levy higher precepts on Council Tax payers.
The remaining £180 million is accounted for by the Home Office increasing central allocations, or top-slicing, by approximately £130m to £945m the cash which supports programmes such as digital technology; armed officers; and bodies such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary as well as an extra £50m for counter-terrorism.
According to Mr Jones, the latest financial blow comes on top of the 20 per cent North Wales Police has had axed from its budget since 2012.
He said: “The fact is that although we are not seeing our central funding cut as it has been for the past seven years, we aren’t seeing it increased either and at a time of inflation that amounts to a real terms cut.”
North Wales Police will see it central funding frozen at last year’s level of £71.7 million and Mr Jones added: “When you take into account inflation that means a £2.1 million real terms cut.
“This is the first year since 2010/11 that the government grant has not been cut and although the provisional settlement is not as bad as I feared it might be, it does not reflect that the force is now spending almost £30m per year less than if these cuts had not been imposed.
“I am also disappointed that although the government has approved an additional one per cent pay increase for our hard-working police officers, no additional funding is forthcoming to meet this cost.
“That means we now face hard decisions on whether to implement further cuts in order to fund the pay rise or to increase Council Tax by up to £12 per property which of course hits our hard-pressed constituents.
“At the same time we have to set priorities, identify emerging needs and ensure that North Wales Police is able to attract the highest calibre candidates.
“We live in challenging times and that is true of policing as well as other areas of society.
“The level of the precept is crucial to the effectiveness of the force in keeping North Wales a safe place to live, work and visit and setting it is one of my principal responsibilities.
“Policing budgets have been under pressure for a number of years and this will certainly continue to be the case with over £7 million in cuts to the budget due by 2020.
“I hold regular discussions with the Chief Constable about his plans and the level of budget he requires to implement those plans, in line with my own Police and Crime Plan and its priorities.”
“Those priorities include the concentrating resources on harm reduction in relation to the most vulnerable people, while at the same time there is increased reporting of domestic violence because of more sympathetic and improved responses to such complaints and the return of modern slavery to the agenda.2
Mr Jones added: “Policing is under great pressure from new demands being placed upon it – who would have thought that the majority of crime in North Wales is now being committed online rather than on the street.
“Despite these increased demands there remains uncertainty over what North Wales Police will receive in the years to come but the need to meet these spending challenges has to be balanced by the recognition that many people find it difficult to find even a small amount of additional money.”