According to todays news, Police overtime in the last year exceeded £310M, and over the last 3 years amounted to some £1Bn. The Metropolitan Police accounts for around 1/3 of the total. These figures suggest that Policing costs are out of control and unless some action is taken in all of our communities matters can only get much worse as aggressive cuts are demanded by the Home Office in its efforts to match the demands dictated by the austerity focused Government. Prior to the recent cuts to Policing Sussex Police had a budget of some £260M so the overtime costs represent the cost of an additional Police force across England and Wales. However these figures also help to show a sense of proportion to other figures being discussed in Parliament at the end of last week. As Parliament was preparing to close down for the long Summer recess, Chuka Umunna MP asked the Home Office
“what additional resources her Department is making available in (a) 2015 and (b) 2016 to (i) the Metropolitan Police to investigate historic child abuse allegations and (ii) the Metropolitan Police and other agencies to offer counselling and support to the victims of such abuse”
The response came from Mike Penning rather than Theresa May, but Mike as a junior Minister in the Home Office was speaking on behalf of the Government
“Resourcing is an operational matter for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. We have prioritised child sexual abuse as a national threat to empower forces to maximise specialist skills and expertise to prevent offending and resolve cases. This means that police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners must have in place the capabilities they need to protect children from sexual abuse. In 2015/16 the Home Office provided an additional £10 million to the National Crime Agency for the creation of more specialist teams to tackle online child sexual exploitation. We have also made available £1.7 million to fund Operation Hydrant, which coordinates the handling of multiple historical child sexual abuse investigations specifically concerning institutions or persons of public prominence, and £1.5 million to support regional coordinators and analysts to oversee the implementation of the National Policing Plan for tackling Child Sexual Exploitation. The Home Office and Ministry of Justice will provide an additional £7 million for victims services supporting survivors of sexual violence in 2014/15 and 2015/16. £2.15 million of that £7million has been provided as an uplift in funding to 84 existing Rape Support Centres.”
So in the context of an overtime Bill of some £300M the Home Office is dedicating £12.2M to Police agencies and £7M to other agencies for victims of Crime across the nation for an issue that quite rightly the Government have “prioritised as a national threat” Its clear that spending more money is not in itself a solution but todays news also refers to £7M that has just been found to deal with additional security at Calais lorry terminal this Summer, primarily because of the impact on commerce and the freight industry is arguing for more to be found. Another contrast is the cost to the UK of a single Typhoon Fighter which is some £87M. These comparators suggest that the Government has very different standards when it comes to defending us from national threats, and that perhaps those who lobby for more funds to be found for Defence and to protect our borders are being heard a great deal more loudly than those arguing for resources for sexual abuse protection. We need to redouble our calls for adequate resources for this important issue.