Commissioner’s ‘serious concerns’ over police funding

THE Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro has criticised the government’s funding settlement as “unfair to Surrey” and set out his “serious concerns” in a letter to the Home Secretary.

Mr Munro, who initially welcomed the settlement, went on: “I said last week that the government settlement signalled good news for our residents and will mean extra officers in our communities. It will do that, and does represent a real increase for police forces following years of austerity.

Surrey Police and Crime Comissioner David Munro

“But having looked at the finer detail, what troubles me is that once again Surrey has received the lowest settlement of all forces. Even our neighbour Sussex, with whom we share many joint responsibilities, is being given a full percentage point more. This cannot be fair.

“While a 6.2% funding increase will mean a much-needed boost in resources for Surrey Police, and I can assure residents it will be spent wisely, I am disappointed that they will in effect pay more for their policing than anyone else.

“The root cause is the deeply flawed police funding formula. The government have previously promised reforms but they are consistently being put back. I have written to the Home Secretary urging the need for a root-and-branch review to make it a fairer system.”

Although the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) acknowledged that the announcement represented good news in terms of more officers on the streets over the next year, Surrey’s residents will receive the lowest percentage increase in overall funding in the country at 6.2%.

This takes into account the combination of central government grant allocated to Surrey Police and the maximum amount the PCC could raise through the council tax precept for policing. 

The county’s taxpayers contribute a higher percentage of police funding through their council tax than anywhere in the UK. Last year around 56% of the total Surrey Police budget was raised through the police precept.

Surrey is due to receive an extra 78 officers over the next financial year as part of the government’s promised 20,000 increase nationally. This is in addition to the 79 extra officers and operational staff and the 25 posts saved from being cut, which was made possible by last year’s council tax precept rise.

As well as the increase in core central grant provided to forces, the government settlement also gives PCCs the flexibility to raise a maximum of £10 a year on an average Band D property through this year’s precept. This equates to around 3.8% across all council tax property bands.

Mr Munro added: “I am currently consulting with Surrey residents on this year’s council tax precept and I’m still really keen to hear from the public.”

Members of the public can have their say on the police precept at   https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/LX7UC/.

The consultation closes at noon on Thursday 6 February.

For the full story get the 30 January edition of the News & Mail

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