Wed, 07 Nov 2018
As another powerful parliamentary committee issues a further damning indictment of the Home Office’s management of police finances, the National Chair of the Police Federation describes the Government’s failings as a ‘national scandal’.
The report published today (November 7) by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) concludes public confidence has been ‘severely dented’ as police forces have to reprioritise work in response to funding cuts.
It also states the Home Office does not understand the demands being faced by the police service and that an overhaul of the funding formula – the method by which the amount of money police forces receive from central government is calculated – is required as a matter of urgency.
Giving his reaction National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter said: “This report is the latest in a long series of huge red flags for the Government. This is now a critical situation and a national scandal. And they can’t say they weren’t warned
“Dedicated police officers are at breaking point and are overwhelmed by the ever-increasing demands being heaped on them as a result of eight years of austerity.
“In the last week five lives have been lost in London as the capital continues to battle a serious violent crime wave.
“My already stretched members are having to work extended shifts and having their days off and leave cancelled to ensure public safety – which of course they will do.
“This is just one example of what we are facing every day across England and Wales and it cannot be maintained – despite the press releases there are ‘no extra officers’ – we are running on empty.
“Our concerns are replicated by chief constables who are now admitting that they no longer have the resources to keep their communities safe, and by public bodies and parliamentary committees which say the police service is being let down by a lack of leadership.
“What will it take for the Government to take its head out of the sand and do something about it?” he continued.
The conclusions of the PAC report mirror closely the findings of those of the National Audit Office which, in its own assessment published in September, stated that the Home Office has no systematic approach to ensuring forces are financially sustainable.
And comes just weeks after the influential Home Affairs Select Committee warned that the Home Office lacked a clear picture of the funding levels that are required to maintain the essential policing service that the public has a right to expect; and just days after the Chair of the National Police Chief’s Council Sara Thornton sparked a debate about forces needing to ‘refocus on core policing’ because of limited resources.
Mr Apter continued: “It beggars belief that the Government department responsible for policing and ergo public safety, has such a shocking lack of understanding of the demands facing the service, and such a blatant disregard for the issues facing my members.
“In last week’s budget the Chancellor had the opportunity to immediately ease some of these pressures but yet again he chose to ignore front-line policing opting to invest only in Counter Terrorism provision – and even that boost has been revealed not to be the £160m injection it first appeared.
“The Prime Minister and her cabinet colleagues keep saying they will prioritise policing. And that austerity is over. It seems the Mrs May has convinced herself this is true, in reality we know she is deluded and is playing politics with the safety of the public.
“My members and the communities they serve are suffering as a result of inaction and the Government must invest immediately if further damage to our police service is to be prevented.
“The fact that policing has been allowed to get to this desperate situation is a dereliction of the Government’s duty and unforgivable.” Mr Apter concluded.
© 2018 Police Federation of England & Wales