Home Office funding reform ‘would benefit Beds Police’

PCC Olly Martins has repeatedly appealed for more funding
PCC Olly Martins has repeatedly appealed for more funding

A planned reform of the ‘out of date’ police funding model is likely to benefit cash strapped Beds Police, the LBO understands.

Policing minister Mike Penning today announced plans to rehaul the way in which the government funds the 43 forces across England and Wales, to put more of an emphasis on population levels of each constabulary.

Currently the government uses the ten-year-old Police Allocation Formula (PAF), which Mr Penning has branded “complex, opaque and out of date”.

A consultation into the proposal to make the £7.8 billion in police funding “fairer and more transparent” has been launched.

An additional announcement that the “underlying characteristics” of each force will also be examined is likely to be music to the ears of PCC Olly Martins, who has repeatedly argued that Beds Police has “serious urban challenges” but is funded as if it is a “small rural force”.

Mr Penning’s review comes a week after a Home Office taskforce concluded a “fact-finding exercise” at Beds Police HQ, which was organised in the aftermath of the overwhelming ‘no’ in the council tax referendum held on May 7.

A source close to Beds Police told the LBO that reform to PAF could ease the force’s financial woes.

They said: “What is likely to happen is that the government will give the force a bigger slice of a smaller cake.

“Other forces will be clobbered by this.”

After voters rejected the proposed 15.8% police precept increase it was announced that the force would have to embark on a recruitment freeze in the next 18 to 24 months and a reduction of up to 135 police officers.

However extra funds received through PAF reform could reverse this.

The source added: “The net effect is that the force would probably be able to stand still on officer numbers, which is still a lot better than what was anticipated.”

On plans for the rehaul of PAF, Mr Penning said: “Police reform is working.

“Over the last five years, frontline services have been protected, public confidence in the police has gone up and crime has fallen by more than a quarter, according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales.

“However, if we want policing in this country to be the best it can be, then we must reform further, and that includes putting police funding on a long-term, sustainable footing.”

He added: “The current model for allocating police funding, is complex, opaque and out of date.

“This consultation sets out proposals to deliver a police funding model for the future which is fair, robust and transparent, and I urge people to share their views.”