PCC Backs New Report Calling for Fair Funding for Rural Forces
Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, has backed a new report calling for fair funding for rural forces.
The report, which was commissioned by the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN), concludes that rural forces seem set to lose out financially as Government thinking is skewed in favour of urban areas. Dorset Police is currently one of the lowest funded forces in the country.
The Home Office is currently reviewing how it allocates national funds across forces and it is hoped that the findings of the report will help to ensure fairer settlements in the future.
The study, which was conducted by academics at Plymouth University, urges the Government to reconsider the criteria for police funding as work to date appears to disadvantage rural forces, particularly those with sparse populations.
This is because the Home Office appears to favour using the number of crimes recorded in an area as the principal basis for allocating money. This would mean funding would be disproportionately influenced by volume crimes such as shoplifting. By definition, there are far more of these crimes in urban areas than in rural ones. However, such crimes are not an accurate measure of policing demand and do not reflect its growing complexity or the unique challenges faced by rural areas.
Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said; “The Government’s approach of counting reported crime works against rural forces and skews funding towards areas with high volumes of thefts. This approach doesn’t reflect the demands on rural policing or the specific challenge of policing rural populations.
“For example, one of the key findings of this research is that rural crimes have much higher rates of road traffic incidents than urban forces. Responding to such incidents, particularly those with tragic consequences, is complex and resource intensive when compared with most volume crime.
“Post-Brexit, the funding settlement we received last year is now in question. It's therefore more important than ever to put forward the case of rural forces and ensure our voice is heard. Along with other Police and Crime Commissioners from other rural areas, I will be using this report to do exactly that.”
The research, led by, says Government thinking relies too heavily on population and crime counts which both favour urban forces.
Professor Sheena Asthana, who led the research, said; “The Government’s approach appears to sacrifice fairness in pursuit of simplicity.
“We think a fresh start is needed and that any new approach needs to use a different methodology and draw on different data if it is to achieve a fair system for distributing funds.”
The report also argues that rural areas face additional burdens that should be factored into funding, such as:
- Rural forces often have to ‘plug the gap’ left by other services such as health and social care whose services can be stretched in isolated areas. Additional responsibilities linked to people with mental health difficulties are particularly noticeable, especially with regard to dementia and missing person cases due to elderly populations.
- Rural forces have to shoulder the cost of significantly higher round-trip distances when attending incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour as well as to road traffic incidents.
- As rural forces tend to have lower officer numbers, the burden per officer is up to 65 per cent higher than for forces nationally, representing an additional challenge for delivering services as well as posing risks to officer and staff welfare.
- Rural forces, particularly those with coastal areas and tourist attractions such as National Parks, experience larger seasonal variations in incidents of crime, ASB and road traffic incidents due to influxes of holiday-makers.
Julia Mulligan, chair of the National Rural Crime Network, said; “This robust and detailed report provides evidence of the underlying reasons why basing police funding on the number of recorded crimes is misleading and sets out the extra challenges rural forces face in meeting the needs of communities typically under resourced by other providers too – including social care, health and the third sector.
Read the Rural Crime - Fair Funding Report