Public Accounts Committee

Financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales inquiry

Inquiry status: open

Scope of the inquiry

Total police force funding has fallen by over £2 billion compared to 2010–11. Police forces have had to reduce their workforce size to respond to financial pressures, with the number of police officers falling from around 244,500 to 199,800 between 2010 and 2018.

While the Crime Survey for England and Wales found that crime decreased by over a third between 2011 and 2018, police forces have faced a recent increase in the reporting of low volume and high harm crime, as well as an increased threat of terrorism.

A recent National Audit Office report has found early signs that financial strain is making it harder for forces to deliver effective services to the public. There have been fewer breathalyser tests and convictions for drugs trafficking and possession, and the time it took to charge an offence increased by four days between 2016 to 2018.

The report concludes that the Home Office’s decision to take a light touch approach to overseeing police forces means that it does not understand the impact of cuts on local policing. It calls on the Home Office to improve its understanding of national and local demands to ensure that forces are financially sustainable.

The Committee will explore how the police funding formula, which the Home Office pledged to reform in 2015, can better account for forces’ local circumstances. It will consider how the Home Office can monitor emerging signs of financial stress to ensure forces meet the growing and changing demands they are facing.

Submit written evidence

If you wish to submit written evidence to this inquiry, the deadline to do so is Tuesday 2 October 2018.

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