Police chiefs welcome funding for more officers, but warn of difficult decisions for forces
The Government has announced its funding decisions for the next financial year as part of its spending review, which sees the service receive money to help forces recruit more officers.
But a freeze on public sector pay was also announced, which will impact police officers and staff at a time where they have made a significant contribution to public safety.
The settlement maintains funding for counter-terrorism policing, provides further funding to tackle economic crime, and additional flexibility for police and crime commissioners to raise council tax precepts to spend on local policing.
Responding to the settlement, National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair Martin Hewitt said:
“We understand the significant challenges the government faces in addressing both the costs of managing the pandemic and the associated economic impact.
“We are pleased to see the government’s commitment to the uplift programme for the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers. The funding announced today will enable us to recruit, train and equip up to 6,000 new officers in the next year, in addition to the planned 6,000 for this year.
“The growth in officer numbers will help us to tackle crime and ensure public safety, and we expect funding for the remaining 8,000 officer uplift to continue beyond the period covered by this spending review. However, a flat cash settlement will leave forces with some very difficult decisions to make about where to find savings and how to ensure the uplift in officer numbers can be sustained.
“Police forces have made substantial savings and delivered reform over the past several years, at the same time as managing increasing demand. We will continue to keep innovating and making the best use of our resources. Some of the required savings may be achievable through initiatives such as forces collaborating to reduce costs and improve commercial activities. We will work closely with government on how we can prioritise these.
“It is obviously disappointing for most officers and staff to learn that their pay will stand still in the year ahead, although this reflects the challenging financial position across the public and private sector. It is important to recognise that throughout 2020, police officers and staff have made a very significant contribution to public safety and police leaders have continually highlighted their dedication, hard work and resilience.
“As we have experienced in the past decade, sustained pay restraint can have wider impacts on the wellbeing of officers and staff, who work so hard to protect the public. We will continue to work with the Home Office and other partners to understand how today’s announcements impact on the police pay review process, and on how we can return to pay progress in future years after this pause.”
Further information on the government spending review can be read here.