‘Deprived communities need support’: MP slams county’s £30m police deficit

A police funding deficit of £30 million is failing rural towns on the East Anglian coast, according

A police funding deficit of £30 million is failing rural towns on the East Anglian coast, according to Waveney MP Peter Aldous. Photo: Reece Hanson - Credit: Archant

Rural towns are seeing a rise in criminal activity with gangs seeping into supposedly sleepy communities, according to an MP.

A police funding deficit of £30 million is failing rural towns in Norfolk and Suffolk, says Peter Aldous, Conservative MP for Waveney.

Mr Aldous said it was wrong for Suffolk Constabulary to be one of the police forces most reliant on local taxation in the country and urged for a review of police funding.

He claims: "Suffolk needs a far better funding settlement than it has at present."

"There is now very limited scope for making further significant changes. If Suffolk received the national average funding, the police budget would increase by nearly £30 million," the MP told parliament in a debate on police funding on Monday, February 24.

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"If we received the same level of Home Office funding as neighbouring Norfolk, our collaborating partners, Suffolk's grant would be £4 million higher."

Mr Aldous told MPs that Suffolk has the third lowest staffing numbers per 1,000 of the population yet has the highest proportion of its workforce in neighbourhood policing.

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He added Suffolk Constabulary, which is 43pc funded by local taxation, receives only £152 per head of the population, compared to a national average of £192.

The government is currently proposing an increase to £15.2 billion for police funding in 2020/21.

When asked by Ipswich MP Tom Hunt whether he agreed that the government review should forget the idea of "sleepy rural Suffolk" and focus on where "the real issues" are, Mr Aldous admitted the region's rurality is "challenging" for police.

His comments follow a rise in crime in small towns like Bungay, where locals suggest a slim police presence has lead to a spike in crime and anti-social behaviour.

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"The case for reviewing the funding formula is strong," he added. "The government has been promising a review since 2015, and I understand that at present it is intended to not take place until after the comprehensive spending review."

Shadow secretary for policing Louise Haigh added: "The funding formula [...] needs to recognise the demand presented by serious organised criminality that is often masked by supposedly sleepy communities in areas such as Suffolk.

"This has been among the most difficult decades for policing since the modern police force was founded."

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