Five police leaders urge chancellor to urgently raise funding

Elected politicians overseeing large urban forces say rise in violent crime is linked to cuts

Politicians overseeing five of Britain’s biggest police forces have increased the pressure on the government to raise their funding, saying cuts had contributed to a rise in violent crime.

Elected leaders responsible for the Metropolitan police and forces in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Merseyside have signed a joint letter to the chancellor, Philip Hammond.

The call comes as the Treasury decides how much money it will provide for policing, which is overseen by the Home Office. The decision is expected in the first week of December.

The letter was signed by the London and Greater Manchester mayors Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham, and the elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) for the other forces, which cover the biggest urban areas in England and Wales. All are Labour politicians.

Earlier this month the home secretary, Sajid Javid, said police may need more resources after eight years of austerity under Conservative-led governments.

The letter from the five police leaders said the link between cuts to police resources and the rise in violent crime across the UK had been acknowledged by two Commons select committees and the Home Office’s own research.

“Policing should be an issue of national taxation but has increasingly been pushed on to local taxation as the government has refused to increase the police grant,” the letter says. “This is unfair and unsustainable because council tax is a regressive form of taxation that disproportionately impacts the least well off and is insufficient to tackle the scale of the problem we face.”

The government says that by allowing local council taxes to be raised it has allowed extra money to go to the police.

As well as Khan and Burnham, the letter has been signed by David Jamieson, the PCC for the West Midlands; Mark Burns-Williamson, the PCC for West Yorkshire; and Jane Kennedy, the PCC for Merseyside.

They want government to meet the extra burden falling on the police from a Treasury decision that means forces will have to pay more into their officers’ pension schemes. This will be £165m next year.

In September, a report by the National Audit Office found that government funding for the police had dropped by 19% since 2010, and the number of police employees had fallen from 244,497 in 2010 to 199,752.

The National Police Chiefs Council in England and Wales says it will take legal action against the government unless it backs down on the plans to deduct hundreds of millions of pounds from their budgets for the pension changes.

Contributor

Vikram Dodd Police and crime correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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