County Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen has spoken of her disappointment at the lack of any extra funding for policing in today’s Budget.
At a time when police forces are “struggling to make ends meet”, the Commissioner said it was deeply frustrating that forces were expected to cover what is effectively a 3.5% pay rise for police officers and staff – without any extra financial reimbursement. It is simply putting more pressure on local council tax payers.
She said: “Our police officers and staff absolutely deserve to be rewarded for the difficult and dangerous job they do - this is even more critical amid a cost-of-living crisis. However, to expect police forces to absorb these extra costs within a budget that is already inadequate is wholly unrealistic.
“As it is, police forces are already having to make difficult and painful decisions to mitigate spiralling inflation, rising costs and the pressures of replacing outworn technology and vehicles on their budgets. There is nothing in this Budget to address this shortfall or even attempt to level up so that forces like Durham, which are historically underfunded, are given the same opportunities as their colleagues.
“Durham is still at the mercy of a discredited funding formula which glazes over its high demand – problems which impact on public safety and require sizeable resources to resolve. The Force is also more than one hundred and forty officers short of where we were 12 years ago. Ironically, wealthier forces are celebrating record numbers. Even the Uplift programme has done nothing to level the playing field.
“Effective policing relies on effective people. I wholeheartedly believe that to recruit the best we must offer a salary that closely aligns with the workforce’s responsibilities – this has to be paid for by the Government. The current starting salary for police officers is less than £13.50 per hour which is considerably less than many other sectors pay for a job that does not carry the responsibilities and threats faced by police officers.
“We mustn’t forget that living standards increase in part because of a safe society. For this reason, the Budget will go down as a missed opportunity – especially for policing.”
The Commissioner also expressed her concern at the impact of the Chancellor’s decision to increase the tax paid on company profits.
“My fear is that companies will be forced to pass this extra burden on to their customers,” she said.
“This would not only be disastrous for consumers but also for public services including policing with the cost of providing services rising even higher and putting extra pressure on police forces at a time when there is no room left for further spending.”
The PCC was also critical of tax breaks for wealthy people at the expense of investing in public services.
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