30th September 2015

Public Accounts Committee Investigate Police’s workload resulting in cuts on other Government departments.

On 18 September 2015 the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee published a report on the financial sustainability of Police Forces in England and Wales. Click here to read a copy of the report.

Among many recommendations it is interesting to note the Committee’s concern that the impact of cost reductions made by other Government Departments on the Police’s workload (cost shunting) is not known.  The Polices main duties are to protect the public and prevent crime.  Police Officers however respond to a wide range of incidents.  It is stated in 2013/2014 just 22% of the 7.3 million emergency and priority incidents that the Police responded to were crime related.  The Home Office told the Committee it was concerned that policing did not become the “social service of first resort” outside office hours in areas such as mental health because other services were not available.

The Committee stated this is an issue which needs to be tackled cross-Government.  No data however is currently held to show the extent to which Police Forces are filling gaps in services that should be provided by others.  The Committee recommended that the Home Office ensures Police Forces collect data that allows it to identify the impact on Forces of funding reductions elsewhere in Government and work closely with other Departments to ensure that the impact of their spending decisions are not borne by the Police Service.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire Julie-Anne Mulligan is reported as stating that North Yorkshire Police faced an increased demand on Friday afternoons because “Social Workers phone the Police once they go off shift”.

On the issue of cost savings Steve White the Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales is reported by the BBC as branding the 43 Police Forces in England and Wales as a “nonsense” and calling for a single nationalised Police Force system.

Readers will recall the Police Service of Scotland was formed in 2013 with the merger of all 8 territorial Police Forces in Scotland.  The British Transport Police’s Scotland Division is planned to be merged into Police Scotland sometime in 2016.

Blog by Richard Hardy, Partner and Head of Police Misconduct