(Title Image: newsfromwales.co.uk)
While policing is non-devolved, the Welsh Government and local authorities are responsible for providing the bulk of funding for the four Welsh police forces – 2020, of course, being an election year for Police & Crime Commissioners.
The total budget for policing in Wales is £384million, with the Welsh Government providing £143.4million of that for 2020-21. The UK Home Office has provided extra funding as part of UK Government policy to recruit an extra 20,000 officers over the next three years.
Local Government & Housing Minister, Julie James (Lab, Swansea West) confirmed that community safety would remain a Welsh Government priority and £16.8million will be used to fund the 500 additional PCSOs the Welsh Government committed to in 2016 in order to provide a visible police presence on the streets.
Shadow Communities Minister, Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales) noted the sizable differences in police precept in each of the four Welsh force areas, with North Wales Police having the largest precept of £291, compared to £273 in Gwent and South Wales and £261 in Dyfed-Powys. Crime, overall, had remained stable.
He restated his opposition to devolving criminal justice, citing North Wales’ lack of operational co-operation with any other Welsh force, instead working with north-west English forces because most crime is east-west and cross-border – though Carwyn Jones AM (Lab, Bridgend) argued this logic would suggest the Republic of Ireland should police the whole of Ireland.
Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda) criticised the police funding formula as failing to adapt to different urban and rural needs. Also, cuts to youth services and alike have made the job of police officers more difficult. She pointed to innovative schemes to address rural crime and bad childhood experiences in Plaid Cymru-controlled Dyfed-Powys and North Wales Police.
Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd) likened Mark Isherwood’s contribution to a Soviet-style five-year plan, with selective use of statistics. Violent crime has increased by 18% and Wales has lost 762 police officers since 2010.
Alun Davies AM (Lab, Blaenau Gwent) said the burden of funding the police was gradually shifting from UK Home Office to local authorities. In 2010-11, council tax precepts funded 33% of the Welsh policing budget; in 2020-21 it’s 47% and 70% of all police funding in Wales came from within Wales.
AMs unanimously agreed the police settlement.