PCC sets out plans to protect Merseyside Police from £8.5m funding blackhole caused by Government shortfall

Police officers in rank

Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner has today set out her plans to protect Merseyside Police from a £8.5m blackhole caused by insufficient Government funding.

Emily Spurrell says years of austerity have left her with no choice but to raise the precept by an average of £8.67 for a Band A property. This is essential if she is to prevent cuts to vital services that fight crime and protect local policing.

Merseyside Police remain 450 officers short of the number they had in 2010 and, even with this increase in the precept, the Police Commissioner and Chief Constable will have to make up a £8.5m shortfall in the year ahead.

Despite the financial challenges, the Chief Constable has focused on investing on frontline services and in the past year all crime has reduced by 7.7% across Merseyside, with significant reductions in burglary (18%), knife crime (18.6%) and gun crime at its lowest level since records began 22 years ago.

The Government announced in December that Police and Crime Commissioners would be expected to raise the police precept – factoring the full amount in their budget plans for policing. 

The increase equates to 17p a week for a Band A household – the rate paid by most council taxpayers across Merseyside. For a Band D property, it is 25p a week.

Without this much-needed increase, the funding shortfall would increase by a further £5m to £13.6m.

Setting out her plans to protect policing to the Police and Crime Panel today, the PCC detailed how, even with this additional funding, she will still need to use £5.2m of reserves and ‘one-off’ funding and the Chief will need to find £3.3m of savings this year alone to balance the books.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “The stark reality is that central Government are simply not providing enough money for policing on Merseyside.

“We’ve experienced years of cuts; our office numbers are still way down, and we still have to find £8.5m of savings in this year alone and £22m over the next five years.

“The last thing I want to do is increase council tax at a time when many household budgets are stretched, but the Government’s refusal to provide the funding our region needs means I’ve been left with no alternative.

“Without this additional funding, frontline police services are in danger of being cut even further.

“It’s my responsibility to ensure the Chief Constable can provide an effective and efficient police service. This is the right decision to protect our police service, but it’s a decision I make extremely reluctantly, especially at a time when so many are facing their own financial struggles.

“As a region we are going in the right direction – serious violence, gun and knife crime are all decreasing. We can’t afford not to carry on along this positive path and that means we have to do everything we can to support local policing and ensure Merseyside Police is in the best position to fight and prevent crime in our region.”

The precept was unanimously endorsed today by the Police and Crime Panel, with members sharing the PCC’s concern about the Government’s failure to fully fund policing locally. They committed to write to the Home Secretary to voice their views.

A public budget meeting will now be held on 14th February at which the PCC and Chief Constable will set Merseyside Police’s budget for 2024/25.