Vera Baird

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Government language is wrong – Labour PCCs demand action

29th September 2017

Labour Police and Crime Commissioners have expressed their concerns at what the government continue to state in relation to protection for police funding.

* In 2015 Spending Review, the government gave a commitment that there would be no cuts in the police budget at all. There will be real term protection for police funding.

* The day after the 2015 Spending Review, the Home Secretary, now Prime Minister wrote to Chief Constable’s stating central government resource funding to policing…. will be reduced by 1.3% in real terms over four years.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: “Home Office language about protecting police funding has been deliberately misleading. Ministers have constantly tried to give the impression of absolute protection for police budgets.

“The UK Statistics Authority uses measured language. But it is clear that they are concerned  about the government’s use of language.”
Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The Statistics Authority has confirmed what we always knew to be the case, government statements about police force funding are misleading.  A flat cash settlement means real term cuts.  Since 2015 police force budgets across England and Wales have reduced progressively by £200m each year.

“Not surprisingly, police officer numbers are at their lowest point for 30 years with 20,000 officer posts lost since 2010.

“To make matters worse, police budgets have been cut by £2.3bn, or 25%, since 2010.

“Put bluntly, it’s now the time for the Government to play fair with the police and ensure safety for the public.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, said: “The Government cannot claim to protect police budgets when they are moving the burden on to local tax payers. Despite the claims of government the majority of police forces this year have not received at least the same direct resources funding in cash as they received in 2015/16.

Labour PCCs raised their concerns about government inaccuracies in relation to the overall real terms protection for police funding with the UK Statistics Authority. A response from the UK Statistics Authority agreed with PCCs “we agree there is a risk that statements about overall real terms protection for police funding could be misinterpreted by the public to mean individual police budgets have been given the same protection.  It is important that Ministers and others are precise in the language they use to reduce the risk”.

Dame Vera, speaking on behalf of Labour PCCs, said “As a group we wrote a comprehensive letter to the UK Statistics Agency and we are pleased that they agreed it is important that the government gives a clear message and not lines that can be misinterpreted.  Due to the way the government has handled the matter of police funding, it has become complex, confusing and shows no logic. The Home Secretary needs to sort this now.”

The UK Statistics Authority also stated that there is a need for government to provide more coherent and accessible information about police funding. This reinforces the view of Labour PCCs that the government continue to use loose language and that information provided should be clearer to understand.

The UK statistics Authority will again urge the Home Office to provide a regular publication of information about police funding in a single document which is timely, comprehensive and coherent and understandable, with contextual details, user-input, and preferably with some longer-term time series data, in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Dame Vera said “Many forces are poorer due to receiving less money from central government. PCCs have been held to ransom by Ministers – increase the precept by the maximum or loose money. Government needs to admit that the language they use could be misinterpreted by the public to mean individual police budgets have been given the same protection. There should be no risk of the public being misled by what the government say.  The Home Office have a duty to be clear, concise and ensure there is no misinterpretation.”