Rural Police May Lose Funds to City Disorder; Be Prepared: Campaign to Reduce Blaze Risks for Families

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Dale

Rural police forces including Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Gloucestershire face losing millions of pounds in Home Office grants in order to pay for the Government's highprofile assault on inner city street crime.

Changes being considered to the Whitehall funding formula are likely to see money and resources switched to urban forces where assaults, muggings and gun-related crime is prevalent.

West Midlands Police, the largest force outside of London, is expected to benefit from additional funding.

But the changes could put paid to a police recruitment drive in in Warwickshire, the country's smallest force. The county boats 981 officers, its highest level yet, and there are plans to push the figure above 1,000 over the next two years.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, is considering changing the Home Office formula, which provides 49 per cent of total police funding, to more accurately reflect modern policing.

The move follows an analysis of police work in 25 forces which showed that officers are spending more time responding to Government concerns by tackling muggings, assaults and street crime commonplace in big cities.

They are spending less time dealing with burglaries, which are often a serious problem in isolated country areas.

In a concerted assault on street crime West Midlands Police managed to record a 27 per cent drop in muggings and robberies during the first six months of this year, the best performance of any force. In responding to changing circumstances, the Home Office is preparing to dismantle a funding formula introduced in 1995. Early indications suggest that 34 rural and semi-rural forces in England and Wales could lose money under a new system, leaving nine urban forces as clear winners. …