Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Funding Cuts Are a Real Emergency; Crime Czar Fears They Cannot Answer All 999 Calls

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Funding Cuts Are a Real Emergency; Crime Czar Fears They Cannot Answer All 999 Calls

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political Editor jon.walker@trinitymirror.com @jonwalker121

CRIME Czar Vera Baird has warned police might struggle to respond to 999 calls after Government funding was frozen for the next 12 months.

Ms Baird said she fears the Northumbria force may be put in a "vulnerable" position as it struggles to balance the books.

Ms Baird said: "There is now a danger that Government cuts may put us in the vulnerable position of not being able to respond to an emergency or to fund major change costs because we simply don't have the reserves to do so."

The warning, in a letter to MPs, came as the Commons approved the annual Government grant to police forces.

After years of cuts, the Government grant for the Northumbria has been set at PS222.6m - the same as last year.

Durham Constabulary gets PS84.7m, also the same as last year.

But this is still a cut in real terms, because of inflation.

Total funding for Northumbria Police will rise by PS5.1m and funding for Durham will rise by PS2.4m, thanks largely to increases in council tax.

In both areas, the Police and Crime Commissioners have imposed a PS12-a-year increase on the precept for a band D home, the highest permitted.

But forces also face extra costs, including the Government's decision to end the 1%-a-year pay cap on police salaries.

Officers are to get a 2% rise but forces have to find the money to pay for this.

At the same time, official police figures suggest crime is rising.

Northumbria Police recorded 38,467 incidents of violent crime in the 12 months up to September 2017 - up 25% compared to the 29,617 incidents recorded a year previously.

Prime Minister Theresa May told the Commons rising crime statistics were a result of improvements to the way police recorded crime. …

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