Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael criticises budget cuts for South Wales Police

POLICE and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Alun Michael has said the police force faces an “enormous challenge” following the announcement of budget cuts.

Responding to the Home Secretary’s announcement on police funding yesterday, December 18, he said: “It is disappointing, but sadly not unexpected, that once again the Coalition Government has cut funding for the police service. The announcement of £8.5million less funding for South Wales for 2014-15 poses an enormous challenge to the police who have already been cut by more than a fifth.

“The Home Secretary and Chancellor seem determined to continue to kick the police service. They have consistently hit the police service where it hurts, imposing more and more draconian cuts on a service that is already seriously underfunded.

“For years, South Wales Police has been seriously disadvantaged in our funding, and next year will be no different.

“The figures announced today show how much we will receive from the Home Office – which for last year was 70% of our budget. This is based on the outcomes of a funding formula. This formula takes account of different aspects of policing, including the size of the force, and the area it has to police.

“But the system works in perverse and unexpected ways. Instead of receiving the full amount the formula says we need to police South Wales appropriately, a significant amount is taken from us and re-allocated to other forces to give them a minimum amount of funding. This year, we have lost £9million because of this absurd practice.”

He added: “This is further compounded by more unfairness compared to many English forces, who receive an ‘Area Cost Adjustment’ grant, which if we had received it would be equal to around £3million, as well as the Government’s refusal to give additional funding to South Wales for policing Cardiff, our nation’s Capital City. The challenges and costs of policing this are real and significant, but it is not reflected in our funding. This is something that I and the Chief Constable have raised with the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister on a number of occasions.

“I have been given assurances that this will be considered when the funding formula is reviewed, but the earliest this will happen is 2016-17. Until then, our funding situation will get worse and worse. The funding formula for the police service is long overdue for review, and I advise Ministers to look at this as a matter of urgency, and not something to be ignored.

“The Government is also introducing a new £50million Innovation Fund, available to police forces from April next year, which will help police forces tackle issues in a different way. I have worked closely with the Chief Constable to develop an innovative bid which we hope will receive support. But what hasn’t been said is that the money for this fund is being top-sliced from all police forces funding. So in fact, we are applying to receive a share of our own money.

“It is very disappointing that we are still not getting the full amount of grant we need to police South Wales. The Force has worked tirelessly to cope with the cut in resources and has spelt out in detail the unfairness in this, and I will renew the attempt to persuade Ministers that this should be addressed.”

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