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Police Commissioner Complains About Surrey’s Share of Police Money As PCC Election Looms

Published on: 27 Jan, 2024
Updated on: 28 Jan, 2024

PCC Lisa Townsend

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

The “outdated” underfunding of Surrey’s police is “unfair” to residents, according to Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend. 

The government announced its funding for police forces in England and Wales in December saying they would receive £18.4 billion – up £922 million on the previous year.

But the way that money is divided has meant some areas received significantly larger shares than others, prompting Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend to write to the government.

See below: Lib Dems’ candidate for May’s PCC election announced

Surrey’s funding will be £308.7 million in 2024/25, an increase of up to £17.3 million when compared to 2023/24.

Her letter, to the minister of state for crime,  policing, and fire, Chris Philp, was seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

It read: “Whilst being thankful for the additional resources that have been made available to policing, I am concerned about the way these have been allocated.

“Once again, rather than being allocated in proportion to costs incurred, ie for pay linked to headcount or payroll costs, these grants have been allocated using the outdated formula grant model.

“This is a particular issue for Surrey where only 45 per cent of our total budget is covered by grant compared with over 80 per cent in Northumbria.

“This means that Northumbria gets 77 per cent more of the additional pay grant for the same level of cost compared to Surrey.

“I did write to you about this when the pay grant was originally announced, and you assured me that the allocation method would be changed but so far this has not happened.”

In autumn 2021 the government announced it was to review how funding was distributed. It has since been engaging with the police sector to determine policing demand and the impact of local factors on forces.

Two and a half years later that work remains ongoing with the government saying the existing model remains the fairest way to allocate core funding to maintain officer numbers and avoid financial uncertainty.

A Home Office spokesperson said:  “Our priority is to deliver a robust formula that allocates funding in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring that police have the resources they need.

“So far, a total police funding settlement of up to £18.4 billion in 2024-25 has been proposed and Surrey Police is receiving up to £308.7m.

“We have engaged closely with the policing sector on an evidence-based assessment of policing demand, and the impact of local factors on forces. This work remains ongoing.”

Lisa Townsend said: “In December last year I wrote to the policing minister in response to the settlement for policing which included the recent pay award for officers funded by the government.

“Our policing teams go above and beyond on a daily basis to keep our communities in Surrey safe and this pay award was richly deserved.

“I believe it will help in Surrey Police’s efforts in a tough employment market to recruit and retain police officers against a background of rising costs and better-paid jobs in the local area.

“However, in my letter I did raise concerns about how these additional resources have been allocated using the current funding formula. This model is outdated and remains unfair to the residents of Surrey.

“We receive proportionately the lowest level of formula grant in the country meaning we will receive a smaller grant to cover the pay costs compared to other forces.

“Throughout my term as Police and Crime Commissioner, I have been committed to fighting for fair police funding on behalf of our residents and I will continue to lobby government for a change in the current formula.”

Cllrs Will Forster and Paul Kennedy

Lib Dem candidate for PCC election in May announced

By Martin Giles

Mole Valley councillor Paul Kennedy has been confirmed as the Liberal Democrat candidate to take on the Conservatives in Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections on May 2.

He is a former barrister, accountant, and actuary with over 30 years of professional leadership experience in finance, governance, and criminal and public law. He has stood for the PCC role the in previous two elections coming second in 2021 with over 112,000 votes (42 per cent).

Paul currently serves as a member of Surrey’s cross-party Police and Crime Panel, which scrutinises the work of the existing Conservative PCC.

Welcoming Paul’s reselection, Will Forster, leader of the Lib Dem opposition on Surrey County Council, said: “It’s great to have such a strong Liberal Democrat candidate yet again for this year’s election. For too long, Surrey residents have been taken for granted by the Conservatives.

“Having served on the Police and Crime Panel with Paul, I know he has the professional experience, strategic clarity and commitment to turn Surrey Police around after December’s damning PEEL inspection report.”

Cllr Kennedy said: “Surrey’s dedicated police officers and staff risk their lives daily to keep us all safe. But after nearly 12 years of Conservative and ‘Independent’ PCCs, Surrey residents pay the highest council tax in the country for our police service and have little to show for it. We all deserve better.

“Like many people, I disagree with the idea of PCCs, but we’re stuck with them for now. So, let’s do the job properly. For over 10 years, I’ve provided independent advice and oversight to a range of public and professional bodies.

“If elected, I will work with the chief constable and his colleagues to fix the failings highlighted in the HMICFRS [His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services] report, bring back community policing, and deliver better value for money for residents.”

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