17 September 2019
Securing sufficient resources for the Gloucestershire Constabulary and staff to effectively police the County is one of my core responsibilities as your Police & Crime Commissioner. Seeking your support to that aim is the sole purpose of this letter.
The Chancellor has indicated that austerity is at an end and I am pleased with the Government’s announcement that they will now support and fund an additional 20,000 extra police officers over the next three years.
No information has yet been made available to indicate how those 20,000 additional officers will be distributed across England and Wales or what provision will be made for an uplift in police staff to support this, but I am pleased to report the Chief Constable and I have the necessary measures in place to recruit, train and deploy our full allocation or more.
My ask is that you support me in lobbying for any additional resources allocated this year to be based solely on the existing policing funding formula. In the absence of any detailed, national consultation or analysis, this is, I believe, the fairest approach to any resource allocation.
It is important to put this into context and to outline how Gloucestershire Constabulary, like other smaller, rural police areas, is currently funded.
In comparison to larger, metropolitan forces, Gloucestershire receives less funding per head of population overall and is disproportionately underfunded by central Home Office grant. This means local tax payers are left to shoulder the burden of ensuring the police receive anything close to adequate funding as the following table demonstrates (figures based on 2018/19 budgets):
|Grant (£) per 1000 population||Grant||Council Tax precept|
|Avon & Somerset||93.96||62%||38%|
|Devon & Cornwall||93.49||61%||39%|
You are probably aware that the Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police and West Midlands Police have already called for any additional resource allocations to be weighted in favour of metropolitan forces. If they are successful this would mean a reduced allocation to Gloucestershire and an increase in the dis-proportionality of central vs local funding arrangements in the county.
Given the desire from Government to start the process of recruitment now and, as I have said, in the absence of any consultation or analysis, I firmly believe any deviation from the current formula in resource allocation would be unfair and unwise and must therefore not go unchallenged. This is not to say that I am in support of the current funding formula for police which, by the Home Office’s own admission is flawed, outdated and in need of review.
To assist you to make the case for a fair allocation of officers and resources to Gloucestershire, the below table sets out the likely increase against the two formulas that have been used for the past several years.
|Assumption||Likely number of additional officers (from the 20,000 nationally)|
|Based on current allocation from Home office grant||Extra 150 officers in Gloucestershire|
|Based on current allocation from Home office grant and the precept||Extra 200 officers in Gloucestershire|
The assumptions in the table above are that all of the 20,000 officers are allocated to police forces. There is a strong possibility however that prior to any funding being made to Constabularies, the funding will be ‘top-sliced’ to provide officers for the National Crime Agency, Counter Terrorism and Regional Organised Crime Units.
I was delighted to learn from the Chancellor that austerity is now behind us but it would be remiss of me not to reflect on the impact on the extensive cuts both numerically and operationally.
Over the last ten years, the grant received from the Home Office for Gloucestershire Constabulary has reduced from £67.9m to £55.5m in 2019/20 – a reduction of £12.4m (18%). The real term reduction in grant, allowing for pay rises and inflation, is £23m. During this time, council tax has had to be increased from 36% to nearly 50% (from £40m to £58m) to offset the reductions in grant and to fund pay rises and inflation.
To put this into context, the total budget for 2010/11 was £112.5m. Allowing for pay rises and inflation, that budget would now be £131m. The budget for the current year (2019/20) is £119.9m.
The following table shows the reduction in numbers of staff, PCSOs and officers since 2010. This includes the reduction of 65 officers following the decision by Gloucestershire County Council to withdraw funding for Neighbourhood Officers in 2013:
|Constabulary employees||31st March||Difference|
|2010 FTE||2017 FTE||FTE||%|
The relaxation of the precept cap in the last two years has been welcomed and the additional funds have been invested to offset cuts, recruit additional officers (to 1,105 FTE), staff and deliver efficiencies which have helped go some way to minimise the impact of these cuts but I’m sure you’ll agree, this makes stark reading. I therefore hope you will join me, HMICFRS and others in acknowledging the resilience, determination and performance of the Constabulary throughout this difficult period. Indeed in the most recent HMICFRS PEEL overall assessment, I was pleased to again see the Constabulary’s performance graded as ‘Good’.
At a time when demand for police support is increasing in numbers and complexity, maintaining this good performance has been extremely tough on those officers and staff that have remained. I hope you agree therefore that the promised uplift must be fully delivered and that we must all lobby Whitehall to make sure Gloucestershire receives its full allocation.
I would be grateful if you would take all possible opportunities to lobby the Home Office on behalf of policing in Gloucestershire and should you require any additional information please do not hesitate to contact me or my office.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire