Amber Rudd lambasts police chiefs over extra funding demands

Home secretary says police forces are sitting on £1.6bn reserves and shouldn’t be asking for more money from government

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, has chastised police chiefs for demanding hundreds of millions of pounds more in funding.

Rudd said police forces, which say they need more resources to stem rising crime, could still make efficiency savings and were sitting on reserves of £1.6bn.

Speaking to the annual conference of police chiefs and police and crime commissioners, Rudd said: “So when crime stats go up, I don’t just want to see you reaching for a pen to write a press release asking for more money from the government.

“I want you to tell your local communities and the victims in your area what your plan is to make them safer.”

The debate about police funding has intensified before the budget later this month.

Rudd said: “Of course, part of being a police and crime commissioner is about speaking to the government about resourcing. But it mustn’t just be about lobbying the government for money. It needs to be about cutting crime, delivering on the priorities you were elected on and being held to account by local people in your area when you don’t.”

Police chiefs were less than impressed with the home secretary’s speech. Paddy Tipping, the police and crime commissioner for Nottinghamshire, said forces across England and Wales faced a £350m shortfall every year and a flat cash settlement, which is no rise but no fall, in the money given to policing by government was a “cuts budget”.

Rudd said she would support police officers engaged in pursuits, and tougher penalties for those who attack them: “I’ll tell you something which just isn’t on: officers being attacked, abused and spat at while they do their jobs. This sort of behaviour is unacceptable. That’s why we are supporting new legislation which will send a clear message that we will not tolerate attacks on emergency workers and we will ensure that those who are violent are punished. You protect us and it’s right that we protect you.”

Rudd said police reform was not over, and that police spending would increase from £11.4bn now to £12.3bin in 2019-20. She said the government would give forces £27.45m from a transformation fund for innovative schemes. Rudd said: “We’ve always been clear that decisions about funding need to be based on evidence and not assertion.”

On Tuesday the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, hit out at the funding squeeze her force faces, saying it would be “incredibly demanding” for the Met to find £400m more in annual savings on top of the £600m a year of cuts it had already made.

She added: “I find it incredible to think that anybody would think that over the next four or five years we should lose that much extra out of our budget.”

Before the home secretary spoke, the chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, Sara Thornton, said policing was spread too thinly, with too much to do, and it was not sustainable: “Recorded crime is up by 13%, record levels of 999 calls and growing non-crime demand to bridge gaps in local services. The police service is stretched – our staff are feeling it and the public is noticing it.

“We have jointly raised this stretch with Home Office ministers and officials. It has become clear that the 2015 settlement of flat cash for forces is unsustainable. Forces are being asked to absorb pay rises and inflationary pressures and this is leading to cuts in service. We are particularly concerned that these cuts are undermining crime prevention and proactive police work.”


Vikram Dodd Police and crime correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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