While Bedfordshire Police has welcomed the latest police funding settlement from the Government – dubbed by Home Secretary Priti Patel as the ‘biggest funding boost in a decade’ – council tax will rise by £10 to pay for it.
The national uplift of officers is 20,000, of which Bedford will benefit from 36 new Bobbies on the beat.
However, this barely replaces a third of the 100 officers who have left the force.
The 2020/21 settlement announcement set out an additional £1.1billion of funding to all forces – should Police and Crime Commissioners take full advantage of raising the police precept element of council tax by £10 for a Band D home.
It is designed to assist with the uplift of 20,000 new officers nationally and was announced in Parliament on Wednesday.
For Bedfordshire, the new deal could see an increase of around £9million to its budget for 2020/21 – to £121.9m.
The boost will help ensure funds can be invested where they are needed most; in extra officers on the county’s stretched frontline.
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said: “Today’s funding settlement is welcome but still requires me to raise the police precept by the maximum allowed without a referendum, of £10 a year for a Band D home – or 84p per month – in order to achieve another £9m for Bedfordshire Police.
“This will allow me to recruit 156 more Police Constables this year, of whom 36 are our share of the national uplift in 2020/21 and 100 are needed to replace leavers but which also allows me to fund 20 additional PCs. (The core grant from Government also includes payment for 18 extra officers who were recruited in the financial year 2019/20 as the first part of the national uplift.)
“There had been rumours that the core grant from Government was going to stand still. If this had been the case I would have had to find some £6m of savings so the extra investment is a relief.
“It allows me to meet the pressures of pay, pensions, insurance and other rising costs and still deliver the recruitment that both I and central Government had promised.
“I’m also expecting further good news on funding imminently as both the current Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, and former Minister, Nick Hurd, have pledged in writing to provide me with a second Special Grant this year, to pay for the specialist response of Bedfordshire Police to gang, gun and knife crime in the county, known as Boson.”
Bedford and Kempston MP, Mohammad Yasin said, “I welcome the funding which will go some way to repairing the damage caused by the savage cuts to our police resources over the last decade.
“But let’s remember, the government are not even replacing the number of front line officers that they cut and it’s the public that are expected to pay more to fill the funding gaps.”
The PCC was previously given a £4.571m Special Grant for Bedfordshire Police for 2018/19 to pay for Boson, allowing it to be doubled with a permanent unit in the north as well as the south of the county.
Chief Constable Garry Forsyth also welcomed the news, saying: “Today’s announcement is long overdue for policing.
“It has been our case, for some time, that Bedfordshire Police is not properly funded to meet the complex crime challenges we face. While we continue to lobby for changes to the wider funding formula to ensure we are adequately resourced to meet those challenges and be proactive in preventing crime, we hope today’s announcement will mean we are able to properly invest in a new generation of officers our public so desperately want to see.
“We are committed to delivering our part in the national uplift of police officers and these additional funds will be crucial to ensuring we have the necessary infrastructure to attract, train and develop this growing frontline throughout their policing careers.
“It could also assist us in laying the foundations to help plug the gaps in the investigation and prevention of serious and complex crimes associated with the exploitation of the young and vulnerable in Bedfordshire.”
Making the settlement announcement, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “This Government is delivering on the people’s priorities by giving policing the biggest funding increase in a decade.
“It will mean more officers tackling the crime blighting our streets, so people can feel safe in their communities.
“The police must now make full use of this significant investment to deliver for the public.”
Mohammad Yasin MP said, “The problem remains that Bedfordshire police is funded as a rural force which does not reflect the complex demands and resources required to police an area like Bedfordshire, a growing urban conurbation which has a high level of serious organised crime and the counter terrorism provision needed to support Luton airport.”