Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has published his policing budget report for 2016-17. It sets out spending plans for the forthcoming financial year and reveals that, for the first time in five years, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) will be able to recruit new officers to shore-up the service.
The recruitment drive will offset those officers who resign or retire, enabling GMP to maintain current officer levels rather than suffer further losses. Despite this good news, GMP still faces significant challenges and needs to find savings of £67m between 2016-2020.
“This move has in part been made possible thanks to the overwhelming support of local people to increase the money they contribute to policing through their council tax, and I am determined to see their money used to bolster the frontline and local neighbourhood policing.
“New recruitment provides a much-needed opportunity to increase the diversity of Greater Manchester Police, helping to create a police force that reflects the communities it serves. New blood means new ideas and will help to revitalise the service.
“However, as my report makes clear, this is still very much a ‘cuts budget’. The Chancellor’s plan to protect policing budgets is full of holes, has not been borne out in real terms, and offers no foresight beyond this financial year. To make his sums add up, I have had to increase the amount people pay through their council tax, but even this can’t assuage the impact that cuts have had and continue to have on Greater Manchester’s police service.”
The central government police grant being issued to Greater Manchester is 0.6% less than the grant received for 2015-16, a cut of £2.4m – contradicting the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement to protect policing budgets.
A smaller government grant coupled with increased demand on policing and rising costs faced by Greater Manchester Police, means that £29.6m worth of savings have had to be found this year alone, and an estimated £67m in total for 2016-2020.
Top-slicing means that £16.2m has been taken away from local policing to pay for national projects, such as the College of Policing, the IPCC, and a new Emergency Services Network.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) identified Greater Manchester as the most challenging area for policing in England and Wales – higher even than London’s Metropolitan Police. And, because GMP have to rely so heavily on the central government police grant (which forms 80% of its total funding), any reduction in this money hits Greater Manchester harder than the majority of most other police areas.
The victim-based crime rate in Greater Manchester is 70 crimes per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of just 58 per 1,000. In 2014-15, GMP received more priority calls, relative to population, of any other police service in England and Wales.
Key points in the budget include:
- Council tax contributions towards policing increased by £5 per year for the average band D property, a move overwhelmingly supported by 78% of people surveyed.
- Police officers to be recruited for the first time in five years.
- An increased annual intake of apprentices, in particular providing more opportunities for young people from a disadvantaged background.
- Investment to ensure that the Chief Constable’s new approach to policing services is embedded swiftly.
- Investment in information technology to build a more robust system, replacing ageing infrastructure and architecture, and enabling better mobile working.
- Investment in body-worn video technology.
- Innovative projects to reduce demand on public services and support vulnerable people.
- Funding of local authority community safety partnerships and community-voluntary groups.
- Improving services for victims and witnesses.
- Exploring the potential for devolving criminal justice to create a more locally-focused, effective approach to rehabilitation and harm reduction.
The report was formally approved at the Commissioner’s public forum on 16 February.