Fighting for Fairer Police Funding
Originally published by Community News, November 2015
When the West Midland comes together, we can get results. That is the message from recent changes to the way the Government allocates funding for Policing across different parts of the country.
West Midland Police has already been hit hard by government cuts of over 20% in the last five years. On top of that, however, there were real fears that our region could be hit even harder in comparison to the rest of the country due to proposals for a new funding formula being considered by ministers. David Jamieson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, warned that without change to the new formula, Birmingham and other local areas faced a ‘catastrophe’ with mass loss of officers.
Together with Mr Jamieson, though, local MPs have persuaded Ministers to change course. In September, Labour’s Shadow Police Minister, Jack Dromey MP, and I secured a special Parliamentary debate where we highlighted the disproportionate cuts faced by West Midlands Police compared to areas like Surrey, and we demanded a fair deal. Soon after, the Minister announced £36.9 million extra cash for our region.
Sometimes, it can seem like campaigns to change things won’t achieve anything and that local action can’t affect decisions made in Whitehall. This tells a different story.
While it is right to welcome the changes which have been made, however, it is also important to remember that we are not yet out of the woods as far as Police funding is concerned. The first challenge is to make sure the Government does not drag its feet in implementing the proposed changes. Implementation delays in the past have cost the West Midlands additional millions, which could have been avoidable.
The second thing to remember is that while changes agreed by the Government give the West Midlands a bigger share of a reducing budget, they do not alter the fact that the budget still shrinking overall. Some local stations, including in Longbridge and Kings Norton, still face closure. Meanwhile, the number of Police Community Support Officers is also still due to fall, despite PCSOs being often the most recognizable faces of the Police on the streets in places like Longbridge and Northfield.
In November, the Government will publish its Comprehensive Spending review of Government budgets for the years ahead. Whatever happens it is unlikely to be good news for our Police. If some of the rumours turn out to be true, we could even be back to the prospect of catastrophe in the West Midlands, snuffing out the impact of the changes we have just secured to the funding formula.
So let’s celebrate what has been achieved. United action in our region can achieve results. But it can’t stop there. Without proper funding, our Police cannot keep our communities safe. So the fight goes on.
To add your support and join the fight for fairer police funding, you can contact Richard via Facebook (FB.com/richardburden4northfield) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.