Police Grant Settlement welcome, but police finances not out of the woods

The Chancellor’s unexpected, but welcome, statement that the police grant would be protected is a tribute to all those  who have campaigned  against his original intention to cut the Met.’s budget by between 25% and 40%. It means that we will not see the huge reduction in the  numbers of police officers the Metropolitan Police Commissioner was warning would follow, but the Met is not out of the financial woods.

The Met. still has budget pressures of £400 million to find over 4 years, half the original expected cut.

So the previous savings options remain on the table, including the changes to rank structures, cross borough border working, reductions in the police estate, and the future of the PCSOs, which will be decided in January.

The Met is still not properly reimbursed for its Capital City function: the grant for this is £174 million, but the amount spent is £340 million.

The national police funding formula which would have cut the Met. by £184 million has been taken back for further reworking, so it remains an open question as to how this will turn out next year.

However  another major threat to community safety  comes from the cut in local government funding

This puts at risk the non-statutory, discretionary work councils do on community safety, for example the funding of CCTV schemes and diversionary activities for young people at risk of becoming involved in crime; or the ‘buy one get one free’ deals that some councils operate with the Met: local boroughs currently directly fund 338 police officers across London.

So while we can all welcome the decision not to cut the police grant, the Met’s finances remain under strain  and when combined with the impact of local government  cuts community safety still remains a major challenge.