Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset, today called for more money for the Police, saying that without increased funding, “more frontline officers might have to go and this is unacceptable to me and my constituents.”
Speaking during the Parliamentary debate on the Police Grant, Drax said, “the police force is a force, not a service. Its job is to prevent crime and catch criminals. Let’s cut out the waffle, give it the assets and money to get on with the job and keep our people safe.”
After stressing his gratitude to Dorset police and their leaders, Drax said that Dorset Police faced three main problems; the continued reduction of government core funding, the increasing complexity and volume of demand and the unavoidable but continued financial pressure, including police pensions.
“The police work for longer, retire older and no longer have a final salary scheme, which reduces pensions bills, but the Treasury is still attempting to pass pension costs on to police budgets,” said Drax. He added that while Dorset police were grateful for the £3 million given this year by the Treasury towards pensions, it still left them £500,000 short and there was no guarantee of future assistance.
Drax also pointed out that while the increased capital grant from government is set at £67.3 million for 2019/20, an increase of 2.1% over last year, it represents £87.30 per person, down from £91.70 eight years ago. The figure is “the second lowest nationally,” he added.
“While we are grateful for this increase, pressures for the next year are even greater,” said Drax. “The bottom line, even with a continued and relentless drive on efficiencies, is that there will still be a need to increase the precept for 2019/20. The Secretary of State has given permission for PCCs to raise the precept by £24 but this a delicate matter…and household budgets are already under strain.”
Saying that in Dorset “we have no more than 50 officers at night on duty at any one time,” Drax also said the “biggest single cost to police resources has been welfare-related calls, with more repeat calls from the vulnerable, including those with mental health issues.”
In addition, he said, “Dorset’s population has increased by 20,000—by about 3%—this year, with changes to demographics and diversity, but there is absolutely no national recognition of this financially.”