Police funding: Met chief 'disappointed' by pay rise" width="976" height="549">
Cressida Dick is the first woman to lead the Metropolitan Police
The head of the Metropolitan Police has criticised the government's refusal to increase police pay by 3%.Police were given a 2% rise - even though an independent panel had recommended a 3% increase.Cressida Dick said she was "disappointed" by the decision "to ignore the recommendations", which had impacted both morale and staffing.It comes as a public spending watchdog called the government's approach to police funding "ineffective".According to the National Audit Office, the Home Office does not know whether the police system in England and Wales is "financially sustainable" following widespread funding cuts.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Police Superintendents' Association in Leicester, Ms Dick attacked the government decision over pay, saying it would make it harder to recruit and retain officers. "I don't want the government to wait until we are struggling like the prison service with chronic understaffing," she said.
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The Home Office acknowledges forces are stretched but says it has increased funding this year and points out that new officers are being recruited.However, Ms Dick argued that it was proving difficult to recruit in the Met, partly, she said because of officers' pay, which starts at ?22,300 in London. She said the government's decision "to impose a 2% consolidating award" flew in the face of evidence and rational argument, adding that it "feels like 1% to our officers"."I am extremely disappointed by that outcome. I do regret the decision," the Met chief said.
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Since September 2009 - the last set of Home Office figures before the Conservatives came into government - there has been a cut of 22,424 police officers.Ms Dick told the conference that the force had faced "unprecedented challenges", noting that some officers are working "longer and harder".She announced a new scheme to encourage recently retired officers to return to work, saying "expertise" was being lost."This is not a service that needs reform, this is a service that needs support and needs resources... the NAO report shows this," she said.
The report found:
It took 18 days to charge an offence for the year ending March 2018 - four days longer than for the year ending March 2016
The arrest rate fell to 14 arrests per 1,000 population in 2016-17, down from 17 per 1,000 population in 2014-15
There have been fewer breathalyser tests, motoring fixed penalty notices and convictions for drugs trafficking and possession since 2010
33% of victims were not happy with police response in the year ending March 2018, up from 29% in the year ending March 2016
Police forces in England and Wales are funded through a ?12.3bn combination of a central grant to each police and crime commissioner, as well as additional cash raised locally through the council tax and one-off grants for special projects. The NAO says the amount coming from the government is down 30% in real terms since 2010-11.
The NAO's Tom McDonald said the Home Office "does not really understand the nature of the demand" facing police forces.He said the funding formula used to allocate money was "out of date", three years after the Home Office told Parliament that the formula was ineffective."It's unlikely that the money is going to the right places," he said. "We have real concerns about it."
Officers worked 97 hours' overtime in year
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Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper said MPs had repeatedly heard about police forces being overstretched, calling the report "very accurate" and "damning".The Labour MP told the BBC it showed an "irresponsible approach from the Home Office" in making "substantial cuts" in the police budget "without appearing to have any clear idea about what the impact of those cuts are".
By Dominic Casciani, Home Affairs CorrespondentThis report from the national spending watchdog paints a picture of a service on the front line of public protection under severe pressure - but nobody in government being entirely sure how much pressure it is really under. The assessors said that while no force was about to financially fail, the stress was apparent. Since two years ago, officers are taking four days longer to charge suspects - an indication of workload rather than rising crime - and there is less "proactive work", such as motorway stops of dangerous drivers, breathalyser tests and convictions for drug possession. The rolling national crime survey has charted rising dissatisfaction with the police - and many communities have campaigned against losing local cuts. Two cities - St Albans and Bath - no longer have a dedicated police station with a front desk.
But a Home Office spokesman disputed some of the NAO's findings - saying it had "a strategic direction" and last year conducted a substantial review of police pressures. "Our decision to empower locally accountable police and crime commissioners to make decisions using their local expertise does not mean that we do not understand the demands on police forces," said the spokesman. "The report does not recognise the strengths of PCCs and chief constables leading on day-to-day policing matters, including on financial sustainability."We remain committed to working closely with police and delivered a ?460m increase in overall police funding in 2018/19, including increased funding for local policing through council tax," the spokesman said.
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