Public Accounts Committee

Financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales inquiry

Inquiry status: open

Report published 18 September 2015. Government response published 16 December 2015.

Scope of the inquiry

The last government reduced funding to Police and Crime Commissioners by £2.3 billion (25%) as part of its plan to reduce the fiscal deficit. Forces have successfully reduced costs since 2010–11, and crime has also reduced. However, this is an incomplete picture. Crime levels are a limited measure as they do not include all types of crime, particularly as forces face increases in more complex risks and threats such as child sexual exploitation.

Moreover, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary data on demand for police services from emergency and priority incidents shows that only 22% of incidents that police responded to were crime-related. Police perceive that they have increasingly expanded their role into the space left unoccupied by local government spending reductions, for example, in dealing with antisocial behaviour or welfare-related issues, missing persons, mental health incidents and out-of-hours social care issues. Forces  have limited understanding of the demand for services which makes it difficult for forces to transform their services intelligently to live within reduced budgets.

This inquiry examines ways for the Home Office, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and the College of Policing to improve information on forces for assessing future police funding, and look to clarify roles and responsibilities within police accountability systems.

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