POLICE budgets are not sufficient, “given the challenges, the complexities and the crimes” facing officers, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has conceded.
He made the admission at the Police Superintendents’ Association Annual Conference today, after Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick described the Government’s refusal to grant a three per cent police pay award as a “punch on the nose”.
Mr Javid said he had taken the recommendation of the independent Pay Review Body for a three per cent rise seriously. However, by instead setting the rise at two per cent, he was trying to strike a balance between what was recommended and fairness to taxpayers.
He said: “This is a reflection of trying to strike that balance and I’m not pretending it’s easy.
“I recognise, and it’s something I recognised early on before I was Home Secretary, that there is a need for more resources.”
Speaking of the upcoming spending review, the Home Secretary insisted that his priority would be policing.
He added: “There has been an increase in resources in the last three years but I don’t think it’s enough given the challenges, the complexities and the crimes that you are facing.”
Addressing the conference earlier in the day, Ms Dick said she was “extremely disappointed” with the pay award.
She added: “This is the second year in a row the Government has rejected the Pay Review Body’s recommendations in favour of a lower award and I think, as you probably have seen, I think this is wrong in principle, because it leaves the PRB process in tatters, undermines the careful balance that protects officers’ rights; wrong in practice, because, in my view, and I appreciate I don’t see the whole view, it flies in the face of evidence and rational argument; and wrong because, although I accept that any final decision is one for the Government, it hasn’t been explained very well yet and we have heard no proposal about how to rebuild confidence.”
She asserted that she did not want the Government to “wait until we are struggling like the prison service with chronic under-staffing” in her speech at the Leicester Marriott Hotel.
She added: “Meanwhile I need to think, how can I recruit and how can I retain and how can I make my officers and staff feel that I really value them? Because I feel this is a punch on the nose.”
The conference came in the wake of a critical report by the National Audit Office, which warned that arrest rates and victim satisfaction levels are on the slide as cash-strapped police forces struggle to deliver an effective service.
The review highlighted huge falls in police staffing levels and reductions in the percentage of crimes which result in criminal charges.
Today, South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings welcomed the report, branding police funding formulas “deeply flawed” and unfair on poorer counties.
Dr Billings said: “The Government is trying to shift the burden of paying for police from central government to the council tax payer. But this is resulting in poorer areas of the country, where there are higher levels of crime, such as South Yorkshire, coming out worse than the wealthy counties such as Surrey where crime is lower.
“In Surrey a small increase in council tax brings in a substantial sum, but this is not so in South Yorkshire because most properties here are in Bands A and B, not G or H.”