There are a range of clear and unique challenges to policing in our area, including; the costs of delivering police services in largely rural, sparsely populated areas, deprivation that can exist within rural areas, the significant amount of crime which happens within smaller forces but originates from larger, metropolitan areas and the imbalance in council tax that exists between areas which receive more government grant, compared to those which receive less.
I don’t feel the current funding formula acknowledges these properly and certainly doesn’t offer our communities the sort of value for money they should rightfully expect. This was echoed in a recent HMIC report which showed West Mercia Police is underfunded when compared to its peers.
The Value for Money report showed West Mercia Police receives around £5.8 million less than other forces of a similar size and demand. Whilst West Mercia Police receives a lower than average demand for 999 calls and emergency incidents, it does receive a higher demand for victim based crimes, in particular violent crimes and crimes against children.
West Mercia Police has an above average number of police officers in relation to the population size, and has a higher than average number of suspects identified. Investments are also being made in ICT modernisation to improve efficiencies and effectiveness in the future.
With fairer funding, we could improve resources to the areas of greatest demand and provide better services for victims. I am grateful for the chance to discuss this important issue with the Minister and I am reassured that he and the government are committed to resolving this issue and providing a fairer distribution of police resources, to better serve our communities.