Wednesday 11 November 2015

Government forced into humiliating U-turn over its shambolic reform of police funding

Mike PenningTHE GOVERNMENT has been forced into a humiliating U-turn after admitting that its controversial reform of police funding had become a shambles.
Police chiefs reacted with astonishment after the Home Office admitted it had used out-of-date figures to calculate force budgets - a blunder which would have cost have cost Durham Police an estimated £10m.

The minister said that the Government intended to press ahead with police funding reform, but would delay the changes which were expected to come in next year.
However, following unprecedented protests and the threat of legal action, Police Minister Mike Penning has now called a halt to the process.
In an embarrassing U-turn he admitted the proposed changes were "never indicative" of police budgets under the funding formula and said the changes for 2016/17 will now be delayed.
Answering an urgent question in the Commons, Mr Penning, above, said:
"Within this process I am sad to say there was a statistical error made on the data that has been used. While this data does not change the principles of what was consulted on, the allocation provided to the forces was never indicative.
We recognise this has caused a great deal of concern to police forces around the country. I and the Government regret this mistake and I apologise to the House. I also apologise to the 43 authorities that I wrote to during the extended consultation period as part of the funding formula review."
Mr Penning said the Government would seek the views of police and crime commissioners and the National Police Chiefs Council before proceeding with the changes.
He insisted it was important to arrive at a fair and transparent formula matched by demand and supported by the police.

Durham's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Ron Hogg, above, said he was "astonished the Home Office let things get so far" before admitting it had made a mistake.
However, Mr Hogg said: "While I am totally delighted with this afternoon's outcome I no longer have confidence in the Home Office to carry out this review of police funding correctly. I think the whole process should be handed over to an independent review body which can come up with a fair funding formula after proper consultation with PCCs."

Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary, said: “Mike Penning’s announcement is good news for the Constabulary and goes to show that if we get our act together and have the evidence we can take on people when they make mistakes.
I would like to thank our MPs and in particular Kevan Jones, Phil Wilson, and Helen Goodman for their support.
I am sorry that I may have put the cat amongst the pigeons this weekend and I know that many colleagues have been concerned at the prospect of having to lose an extra 250 police officers.
At least we can now get back to the day job of continuing to keep Durham at the pinnacle of policing".

The apology comes amid bitter controversy over the planned changes, with six Police and Crime Commissioners, including North Yorkshire commissioner Julia Mulligan, threatening the Home Office with legal action over fears they are set to lose millions of pounds in Government support.
Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz, who asked the urgent question, described the situation as a "shambles".
He said 31 out of 43 police forces would lose money as a result of the error and added: "This entire process has been described by police and crime commissioners and others as unfair, unjust and fundamentally flawed.
"What started off with good intentions is rapidly descending into farce.
To call it a shambles would be charitable."

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson asked the minister to “go back to the drawing board and recalibrate the formula and come back with something more sensible.”

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