MP fights for cops' funding

Chesterfield's MP has urged Government ministers not to cap Derbyshire Police's budget – warning that it could result in cuts to the already-underfunded force.

Chief Constable Mick Creedon, Janet Birkin, chairman of Derbyshire Police Authority, and MPs from across the county met with Local Government Minister John Healey and Policing Minister Vernon Coaker on Tuesday to present their case against the proposed budget cap.

Members of the Police Authority have agreed a budget rise of 4.99 per cent for 2009/10, with an 8.68 per cent rise on residents' council tax bills.

But Mr Healey has said no police force would be allowed to raise its precept by more than five per cent or its overall budget by more than four per cent and has started a process to cap Derbyshire's inflation-busting bid.

Following the meeting, Paul Holmes MP repeated pleas to the Government to either increase its funding for Derbyshire Police – currently the fourth lowest funded force in the country – or let the budget stand.

He said: "The Government has repeatedly refused point blank to give Derbyshire Police the extra 5m per year that it needs to meet its policing needs.

"This increase is a 'standstill budget' which does not allow for improvement in police services but prevents cuts.

"If the Government does cap the increase – down to 5 per cent for example – then 45 police officers could be lost from an already undermanned police force.

"No-one in Derbyshire wants this to happen."

The Police Authority stated reasons why its budget should not be reduced, detailing the effects a cut could have on its work.

Chief Constable Creedon said: "We presented the facts about the efficiency of the force and the full financial picture and both felt that we got all our points across.

"We made them well aware of the operational risks the force is facing.

"We feel that we clearly spelled out the impact the removal of resources would have on the service we provide to the county's residents and visitors."

The ministers gave no indication as to when they would announce a decision on the budget cap.

helen.beighton@derbyshiretimes.co.uk