Government must find right funding formula for totality of policing
In her latest blog, PCC Alison Hernandez discusses funding the totality of policing and the importance of leadership
If there were any doubt in anyone’s mind that we are living in a highly political world then the events of the past few weeks will remove them. But among all the machinations and political manoeuvring happening as a result of general elections, negotiations on leaving the European Union, the response to terrorist atrocities, one key word keeps coming to my mind - leadership.
The role of leadership is under-estimated but it is so important in all walks of life. Would Exeter Chiefs be rugby’s premiership champions now if it wasn’t for the lead given by chief executive Tony Rowe and coach Rob Baxter? Can you imagine the Eden Project achieving world fame without Sir Tim Smit at the helm?
Last week I read the information published by the Government in the immediate aftermath of the Queen’s Speech. I read it with an open mind, hoping for clarity of message, so that I, as a leader, would know if our plans and priorities remain achievable. But from a policing point of view I am afraid it raises far more questions than it answers.
Policing has entered a period of unprecedented challenge and change but the Queen’s Speech, and subsequent statements by Home Secretary Amber Rudd, really only refer to the threat to communities from terrorism and the police’s ability to respond. There was no mention of how future funding for the police will affect communities. And that is worrying for a force area like ours because by not talking about policing in its totality, it raises uncertainties over the future funding settlement with currently no agreed way that money should be circulated.
The police is funded in two ways – mostly from central Government and partly via a contribution from our council tax. Each force receives a cut of that overall central budget based on a complicated formula but a large portion also goes to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Police Transformation and Reform Fund and to provide a national response to organised crime like the National Crime Agency.
So the more money which is top sliced to fund regulation, complaints and national projects, means there is less left for each chief constable to get to grips with the ballooning threats from cybercrime, fraud, modern slavery, child sexual exploitation and domestic violence.
My relationship with Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer is a relatively new one but our first year working together has shown we are both prepared to play our parts as leaders. We have worked really hard to make savings and found ways to work more efficiently including ways to transform the workforce - we have also asked our communities to help us by paying a little more each year through our council tax.
The Police and Crime Plan that I published earlier in January, as a direct result of the biggest ever consultation into policing which my team carried out last year, sets out an ambitious programme of work that I am determined to deliver.
The chief constable is leading Devon and Cornwall police well and delivering an effective alliance with Dorset Police. We are also working across the south west region to deliver forensics services among others to help secure a more safe and resilient future. Only last week all five forces in the region were deciding how we can do more work together.
As Police and Crime Commissioner I am the only elected representative with responsibility spanning the whole of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This brings with it real opportunities to work collectively with local partners to work in the best interests of policing and the south west. This is a big task.
In the first twelve months of my term I have met thousands of members of the public, police officers, staff and community representatives. On top of this I have provided the strategic oversight and leadership required from the PCC and held the chief constable to account.
We both agree this type of strong leadership is important if we are to help all our communities be safe and happy places. But I accept we still need to do more and I have now concluded that the time is right to appoint a deputy PCC.
So next week I will propose to the Police and Crime Panel Mark Kingscote be appointed to the role. All PCCs can use legislation to appoint someone to this position and over half have already done so, including our close partner Dorset
I have every confidence that Mark is the right person for the job to help lead across the peninsula, regionally and nationally. He is a strong individual who will represent the most vulnerable in our communities extremely well, is committed to building safe, resilient and connected communities with a track record in scrutiny, planning, diversity and mental health – all areas that we need to enhance our efforts to keep us all safe.
Strong leadership must be part of the solution to our problems and that has been highlighted in the response to recent tragic events. I promise to use this extra leadership capacity to ensure the profile of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is kept high in the minds of the decision makers at Westminster and available to all of us in our community too.