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Saturday April 4th 2020

Capping of the Surrey Police Budget

On 26th June 2008, Surrey Police Authority was informed that the Government had set a notional budget requirement for 2008-09 at £189,622,000, compared with the Authority’s original budget of £191,497,000. This decision to nominate the Authority was made by the Secretary of State who, having considered our written submission, concluded that our budget requirement remained ‘excessive’.

The Authority believes it has put forward a comprehensive case for not being capped and its three-year strategy is a prudent and measured approach to planning and budgeting. It is disappointing that Ministers have not been convinced by the policing and budgetary challenges we face.

Despite requests for further clarification, we do not know the grounds on which our case has been rejected and no further information will be provided on how Ministers reached their decision until after the deadline for submitting a challenge. This lack of transparency is disappointing. We do not wish to engage in an expensive appeals process but, on a matter of such crucial importance to Surrey residents, we have been left with little choice. We have therefore formally challenged the Government’s notional budget requirement.

In the short term, the Government’s decision has delayed investment in high priority areas such as counter terrorism and cross-border crime and we have had to re-phase spending in our three-year plan. We will continue to struggle to address our predicted substantial budget deficits.We would welcome support to:

  • Ensure the Government’s decision-making process around capping is open and transparent
  • Challenge the Government’s decision to cap the Authority in spite of our ongoing budgetary and operational difficulties and carefully prepared three-year plan
  • Engage in meaningful debate on the future funding of the police service

Long-Term Financial Issues for Surrey

The amount of funding available to Surrey Police is established by the Government’s complex funding formula which takes no account of cross-border criminality or identified risks. Indeed, Sir Ronnie Flanagan’s report (2008) states ‘the allocation of grant funding to police authorities should be based transparently on objective need in order to better match resources to threat and demand.’ The recent Green Paper on policing refers to a 58% increase in central funding since 1997 which, it says, equates to 19% in real terms. The reality for Surrey is that, as a result of the application of this formula, there has been a reduction in real terms equivalent to 24% in Government contribution to local policing.

Briefing Note: Surrey Police Authority Finance & Related Issues

Our budget gap is £13.1m over a three-year period. A comprehensive change programme will save £4.6m, reducing headcount by about 80, but the additional £8.5m funding gap will require further substantial headcount reduction. It is a real challenge to balance the budget without a reduction in front-line policing activity, particularly in Neighbourhood Policing.

Capping has reduced our flexibility to raise money from the precept in future years. This will be problematic if we continue to receive poor Government grants or if further demands are placed on the Force that have not been included in our planning. For example, our current shortfall would worsen by approximately £2m per year if the Home Office removes the current damping mechanism.

We would welcome support to:

  • Ensure the real-terms reduction in our funding in the last eleven years is recognised by Government
  • Make sure any review of funding for the police service takes proper account of the risks facing an area as well as its demographics
  • Oppose the short-term cuts to the floors and ceiling funding mechanisms

Surrey Public First

Our Surrey Public First initiative evolved last autumn and received support from Sir Ronnie Flanagan’s Review of Policing which identified that the present rigid, performance-led regime was overly influencing crime decisions and disproportionately emphasising the recording and detection of crime. Our plans have received the support of the Home Office and we are putting the Surrey public’s requirements before some elements of the national performance regime and are giving our officers more discretion to deal with issues effectively.

Ultimately, we are pursuing two simple aims: the safety of the public and their confidence in policing.

Whilst it is too soon to claim success, early feedback is very encouraging. So far this year, serious and acquisitive violent crimes are down by 20% and 10% respectively. Public satisfaction with our response to their calls is rising and the latest British Crime Survey shows that the confidence in the public with their local police in Surrey is the second highest in England and Wales.

We would welcome support to:

  • Ensure we can continue our innovative approach to meeting local people’s policing needs

We are tremendously grateful to all who have lent their support to our campaign for a fairer funding settlement for Surrey. If you would like to find out more about our work, or how you can help us to achieve our goals, you can contact us in the following ways:

By Post – Surrey Police Authority, PO Box 412, Guildford GU3 1BR
By telephone – 01483 630 200
By fax – 01483 634 502
By email – spa@surrey.police.uk

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