North West Police and Crime Commissioners threaten Home Office with legal challenge to cuts3 November, 2015
Three North West Police and Crime Commissioners have joined forces with three other PCCs nationwide and the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime in London to consider mounting a legal challenge to proposed changes to the Police Funding Formula.
Last month it was revealed that Lancashire and Cumbria forces would be the worst hit forces outside London as a result of the proposed funding review, with Merseyside Police also facing a significant reduction in its funding.
The proposal to change the way funding is awarded comes ahead of the comprehensive spending review which is expected to reduce force budgets nationwide by an additional 25 to 40% during the course of this parliament.
Now PCCs Clive Grunshaw of Lancashire, Jane Kennedy from Merseyside and Richard Rhodes of Cumbria in the North West have joined forces with their counterparts from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in London, Thames Valley, North Yorkshire, and Devon and Cornwall and written to the Home Office outlining their objections to the review and advising them they are considering a legal challenge.
Collectively the changes mean the three North West forces will potentially need to save up to £210m between 2010 and 2020 plus additional savings as a result of CSR.
These cuts are made up of:
|PCC area||Savings delivered or identified to date||Effect of the proposed funding formula review|
|Lancashire||– £74m||– £24.5m|
|Merseyside||– £77m||– £5.2m|
|Cumbria||– £20m||– £9.5 m|
|Total over the 3 forces:||– £171m||– £39.1m|
The Commissioners argue that the Home Office has provided insufficient detail and technical information during the consultation process only releasing information on how calculations were reached in October. The consultation process has also been rushed. They say this goes against the Government’s own consultation guidelines.
They also argue the speed with which the changes may be implemented will leave many forces unable to make adequate provision for the cuts leading to safety concerns.
In Lancashire the cuts will lead to the possible closure of all public enquiry desks, loss of mounted branch and dog unit, the likely end to early action activity that works to prevent crime escalating in the first place and a reduction in operational hours of 101 service. Other services such as serious and organised crime units may also need to be provided regionally leaving the area competing with other North West towns and cities for reducing services.
In Merseyside PCSOs, neighbourhood policing, mounted branch are all under threat and a petition has been launched by the Commissioner urging the public to sign up voicing their opposition to the cuts.
All three forces are already undertaking collaborations and sharing services either with other blue light or public sector services to reduce costs, and have joined procurement hubs to cut costs of purchases of everything from vehicles to stationery.
The letter sent to the Policing Minister said the seven Police and Crime Commissioners say the funding review is a milestone moment for the police service in Britain.
“The decisions the Government makes on funding in the next few months will determine the mission and the manner of policing and community safety in this country for a generation. Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables need clarity, certainty and transparency to prepare their forces and to have a meaningful discussion with the public about the service we can offer them in future.
“The uncertainty and concern caused to the communities we serve by the review as it currently stands was entirely avoidable and wholly unacceptable.
“It is with much regret that we are therefore taking legal advice with a view to initiating a judicial review, should our concerns not be addressed.”