APA chair Ruth Henig said:
The decision to nominate Cumbria, Northamptonshire and West Mercia Police Authorities for capping was announcedtoday by the local government minister Nick Raynsford. This would mean they face a notional budget lower than the one they have set for 2004/05 and a strict limit on the increase in budget they could raise next year. Peter Holland, vice chairman of the association, added:
'We have been warning the government publicly and privately for some months now that we needed to increase budgets by 6% to continue to deliver the kind of visible and effective policing services we all want to see, and that police council tax increases of 15% would be needed to bridge the funding gap. There is a wide range of pressures facing police authorities this year, namely index-linked pay, police pensions costs and a variety of operational and statutory pressures, including the protection of our communities from the increased terrorist threat. Unlike other local authorities we received none of the additional funding announced by the chancellor in December.
'We have kept in close contact with the government about the increases being planned by police authorities and are therefore very surprised to find that police authorities are being capped. Each of these three authorities will be putting in strong representations. This association will be givin g them our full support and we very much hope that once the deputy prime minister has had the opportunity to consider these representations they will decide not to pursue the capping action.'
Dr Henig added:
'We are also concerned about the prospects for police funding for 2005/06 in the light of government statements about public spending and about keeping council tax increases to 3%. Many police authorities have taken one-off measures to keep budgets low this year, for example by using their scarce reserves, and there is now a very real danger of police services being cut next year unless central government finds additional resources. This association is desperate to avoid such cuts in services to our communities.'
1.The APA represents all 43 police authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Local police authorities, along with the home secretary and chief officers of police make up the tripartite relationship which is responsible for the governance of policing in England and Wales.
2.Police authorities are made up of local people comprising a mixture of councillors, magistrates and independent members and act as the bridge between local police forces and communities.
3.Police authorities are responsible for
-setting the budget for their police force, including raising local council taxes for policing
-consulting and engaging with local communities to find out what they want the local police to tackle
-setting the strategic direction for policing locally, deciding local priorities for policing and setting their force challenging targets to drive performance higher
-appointing (and, if necessary, dismissing) the chief officer
-monitoring and managing local police performance