Public Accounts Committee

Financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published 7 November 2018. Government response published January 2019.

Report and response published

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.

Latest evidence

  • 10 Oct 2018 - Financial Sustainability of police forces in England and Wales - oral evidence | PDF version (PDF496 KB) HC 1513 | Published 24 Oct 2018

    Evidence given by Chief Constable, Michael Barton, Durham Constabulary, Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths, Vice President, Police Superintendents Association, Alison Hernandez, Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner, and Jane Kennedy, Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner; Sir Philip Rutnam, Permanent Secretary, Home Office, Scott McPherson, Director General, Crime and Police Fire Group, Home Office, and Sir Tom Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (at 3.15pm).

Next meeting(s)

There are currently no public meetings scheduled.

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