Monthly column: Nobody thinks police funding formula is working

Police on the beat
Image: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

This week in Parliament, I joined fellow Bedfordshire MPs in raising the issue of Bedford’s defective police funding formula.

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I wrote to the Minister for Crime and Policing, Chis Philip to ask if his Government was going to reform the funding allocations by the end of the Parliament as was promised in a prior response to a question I asked in Parliament in 2022.

This was after the Minister failed to repeat this commitment in response to a question on this topic in Parliament recently. Time is clearly running out.

Nobody, including the Government, thinks the funding formula is working.

Almost exactly a year ago, Chris Philip admitted, “The government recognises that the current police funding formula is out of date and no longer accurately reflects demand on policing.”

The source of income for the 43 geographic police forces is from this central government grant. Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) can (and usually do) also raise additional revenue funding through council tax precepts.

In fact, the majority of police funding comes through the precept meaning taxpayers are paying twice for their police force.

Bedfordshire Police is funded as a rural force despite having the urban areas of Bedford and Luton, and an international airport with counter-terrorism activity within its remit.

This leaves Bedfordshire Police with a significant funding shortfall that is only partially covered by piecemeal grants.

It leaves the force unable to undertake optimal medium and long-term planning or to recruit the police officers needed on our streets to urgently tackle the level, nature and severity of crime including; violent crime, gangs, drug-dealing and county-lines crime and the anti-social behaviour that blights our communities. 

Police funding for 2024 increased by 4% on the previous year, but Bedfordshire still has hugely insufficient funding per head of population, not least because of population growth and the increasing demand for police services.

The statistics do not consider the vacuum left by the reduction in police staff, and the movement of Police Community Support Officers and special constables into full-time policing.

Although police office numbers have risen in Bedfordshire over the last few years following the catastrophic failure of Tory austerity and the widespread selling off of police buildings, police forces haven’t recovered.

They have not reached the numbers with experience that we had in 2010 under the last Labour Government.

A quarter of frontline officers this year will have under five years’ experience. Retention is a huge issue with police resignations growing year on year. This has left an increasingly demoralised workforce which has endured years of real terms pay cuts.

I hope the Policing Minister agrees to meet all the Bedfordshire MPs who are united in demanding a fairer formula for Bedfordshire and keeps the Government’s commitment to address this issue before the next election.

The public should not be facing a postcode lottery when it comes to something as important as their police service, with wealthier areas receiving more funding due to a higher amount of tax paid.

This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mohammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford & Kempston.
It is published unedited and does not
reflect the views of the Bedford Independent.

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