Police chiefs in row over budget cuts
A war of words has erupted between two Midlands police chiefs over the funding each of their forces gets from the Government.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has written to his counterpart in West Mercia, John Campion, to complain about 'negative' comments relating to the amount of cash given to West Midlands Police.
In an attack on the Government's funding formula for 'unfairly penalising' rural forces, Tory PCC Mr Campion had argued it was 'wrong' that West Midlands Police receives more cash per head of population than his West Mercia force.
In his letter, Labour PCC Mr Jamieson described the comments as 'disappointing and unhelpful', arguing that the West Midlands was dealing with higher crime levels and bigger funding cuts than West Mercia Police.
Shropshire Star comment:
He also accused West Mercia Police of 'moving away' from regional collaborations between forces that were put in place to save cash and better allocate resources.
In response, Mr Campion says that police funding figures proved that Mr Jamieson hasn't got 'a leg to stand on', and urged him to concentrate on dealing with the issue of high crime rates in the West Midlands.
The pair have locked horns already this year over the ending of the alliance between West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police.
Mr Campion said the move was designed to provide the public with better value for money, a claim questioned by Mr Jamieson, who described the decision as 'absolutely staggering' and unprofessional.
Mr Jamieson wrote in his letter that West Midlands Police had seen a 25 per cent cut in funding over eight years, compared to West Mercia Police's 17 per cent reduction.
He said his force's 'low' council tax precept meant funding cuts had a 'greater impact' in the West Midlands, and cited Office for National Statistics figures showing that the West Midlands has 33 per cent more crime per 1,000 of the population than West Mercia.
"Your recent decision to end the strategic alliance with Warwickshire Police was in a bid to ensure West Mercia residents received 'better value for money'," he wrote.
"However, the arrangement had previously allowed both forces to save more than £35 million, and maximise resources to frontline policing through the merger of service.
"Furthermore, West Mercia made the decision to withdraw a total of 25 officers from the Central Motorway Policing Group in April.
"These examples show how West Mercia have begun to move away from regional collaborations which were in place to better allocate resources and save on expenditure.
"In the spirit of working together, I hope that when discussing your funding problems that the type of comparisons you make with the West Midlands are carefully considered."
Mr Campion says PCC budget reports show that West Mercia Police receives £97 average funding per head, compared to £158 in the West Midlands, while council tax bills for his force area were £60 higher for Band D properties.
He told the Star: “Mr Jamieson may not realise it, but his letter simply reinforces my central point:
"The West Midlands area has, over the course of many years, received significantly more funding from Government per head of population than most forces.
"This in turn has created the scenario we see today, where residents in West Mercia and other areas are paying much higher council tax bills for their policing service.
“I’m afraid Mr Jamieson doesn’t have a leg to stand on if he wants to dispute that because the figures speak for themselves.
"Instead of picking arguments with other PCCs, perhaps the bigger issue Mr Jamieson should be considering is why crime rates in his area are so much higher than other forces, despite all the additional money he has had from Government over the years.”