Back to square one for penniless Beds Police after Home Office funding error

PCC Olly Martins
PCC Olly Martins

A government foul up on proposed changes to the police funding model does nothing to improve Beds Police’s fortunes, PCC Olly Martins has said.

On Monday Police Minister Mike Penning was forced to admit to the House of Commons that there had been a “statistical error” with government’s proposed overhaul.

Mike Penning MP

Mike Penning MP

As a result of this planned changes to police budgets in 2016/17 have been delayed for an indefinite amount of time.

Beds Police had been in line to receive 0.9% of the national budget– exactly the same amount of funding it currently gets.

Though police and crime commissioner Olly Martins blasted the planned revamp– which he said showed the government had “chickened out of reforming the police”– he remains unhappy with the current level of funding his force receives.

He said: “The point for Bedfordshire is that the force is approaching the point of no longer being viable.

“The formula review should have been an opportunity to insulate the county from the impact of the Chancellor’s spending review, which is expected to cut overall police funding by anything from 25% to 40%, or anything between £21million and £29million for Bedfordshire.

“We deserve to be protected from further cuts because our urban policing challenges but our rural level of funding mean we are already the worst funded police force in the country.”

Fighting Mr Martins’ corner in Parliament on Monday were Luton South MP Gavin Shuker and former council leader Lord McKenzie.

In response to a question from the latter, Home Office minister Lord Bates conceded that Bedfordshire is a ‘difficult case’.

He said: “I am conscious that Bedfordshire has a particular case because it covers a large rural area and the centre of Luton.

“That makes policing and the allocation of the budget particularly difficult.

“Bedfordshire is a difficult case, which is one of the reasons why we proposed transitional funding arrangements under the old plan, but now we are back to square one and have to look at that again.”

Last week Mr Martins told the Home Affairs Select Committee that without additional government funding he would be forced to seek other means of income.

He is considering plans to permanently switch on variable speed cameras between M1 junctions 10 and 13.

Sponsorship of police uniforms and vehicles by ‘ethically vetted’ firms is also being weighed up.