Rural Britain deserves a far bigger share of police resources including a proportional number of additional officers to tackle rural crime and keep communities safe, key figures have warned.
Calls are being made for a “radical re-think” of the Government’s funding formula given to police forces covering vast swathes of the countryside to ensure rural areas have enough officers to deal with crime.
Following Whitehall’s pledged to put 20,000 new police officers on streets across the UK, there are claims the Government’s funding “disproportionately hits rural areas”.
In the first year, West Yorkshire has a target of 256 new officer compared to 58 in North Yorkshire, while the Humberside force will aim for 97 new recruits and South Yorkshire is due 151.
The National Rural Network’s chairwoman and the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan, said: “Any additional police officers are welcome and sorely needed. However, what the allocation of these additional officers shows, once again, is the huge problem with the grant funding formula.
“It disproportionately hits rural areas who are facing serious crime and anti-social behaviour challenges such as county lines drug dealing, but are also especially vulnerable because of their isolation.”
Analysis by the National Rural Network reveals rural forces receive nearly a quarter less funding per head of population than those covering urban areas. In 2018/2019 a predominantly rural area received £167.01 per head of population, compared to a predominantly urban area which had £206.20.
Read more: The true cost of rural crime across Yorkshire revealed
The network’s chief executive, Graham Biggs, said: “The formula for distributing funding is skewered towards urban and city areas and away from rural communities. The funding formula needs a radical re-think which reflects the needs of people and businesses.”
Latest figures show crime across rural Yorkshire has cost nearly £4m in insurance payouts, one of the highest nationally.
A Government spokeswoman said Ministers are committed to ensuring “every part of the country” tackles crime effectively.
She added: “Police forces in Yorkshire and the Humber will be able to recruit 562 extra officers in the first year of our unprecedented uplift. It is for Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners to target their resources to tackle local priorities.”
The spokeswoman added: “The Government used the existing funding formula as the basis for the first year recruitment targets in order to get the police officer uplift underway swiftly.
“Officer allocations for years two and three are still to be agreed and will be announced in due course.”