Budget 2018: Police Federation accuses Philip Hammond of 'prioritising potholes' over crime

£160m awarded to counterterror policing is half the £420m towards fixing holes in roads 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 30 October 2018 13:25
Budget 2018: £420m made available for tackling potholes says Chancellor Philip Hammond

“Prioritising potholes” over crime is an example of the government treating officers with contempt, says the Police Federation.

The association, which represents 120,000 rank-and-file officers, said the Budget should have addressed “the overwhelming issues facing the police service”, and accused the government of showing contempt for officers.

Philip Hammond announced an extra £160m for counterterrorism but no increase for other areas of policing, despite a rise in recorded crime.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of UK counterterror policing, said the money was welcome but there needs to be a “long-term funding arrangement” to recruit specialist officers and deliver national infrastructure projects.

“While this funding increase allows us to continue these vitally important projects, I still believe we need to rethink how we fund our world-class counterterrorism network,” Mr Basu added.

“I would also like to reiterate my belief that counterterrorism specialists depend on well-resourced local police forces, and that any move to improve our network will only be truly effective if my chief constable colleagues see similar investment in the near future.”

Giving evidence to MPs last week, he said the number of live terror investigations in the UK has hit a record of 700 as Islamists and the far right “feed off each other”.

“I’d like to tell you that we are matched to the current threat, but the reality is that we are not,” he warned.

Mr Basu said the UK’s counterterror capability was running “red hot” because of an increase in plots, with 13 Islamist and four extreme right-wing attacks foiled since the Westminster attack in March 2017.

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He warned that despite their specialist capabilities, counterterror police “depend entirely on” local officers for intelligence.

Neighbourhood units have been among those hit the hardest by budget cuts, and there are now 20,000 fewer police officers than in 2010.

The Budget was unveiled days after MPs warned of “dire consequences for public safety and criminal justice” if the government does not increase funding for struggling police forces.

The Home Affairs Committee found that while the number of offences recorded has risen by a third in three years – with violent crimes soaring – charges and summons have plummeted by 26 per cent.

Separate figures released last week showed the number of arrests by police in England and Wales has halved in a decade, and victims’ confidence in the criminal justice system is suffering.

John Apter, chair of the Police Federation, said the £160m awarded to counterterror policing was the “very minimum required” to retain capability, and less than half the £420m allocated to deal with potholes.

“This is just another example of the contempt in which the government holds police officers,” he added. “What does it say when a government prioritises potholes over policing?”

Mr Apter said the £2bn-a-year investment in mental health services, including dedicated ambulances for people in crisis, would “go some way to easing the pressure on frontline police officers” who currently have to wait with mentally ill people for hours until the NHS can find a place for them.

“What the police service needed was a lifeline,” he added. “The government is jeopardising the safety of the public who they have a duty to protect.”

Mr Hammond said the home secretary, Sajid Javid, would make an announcement on the police funding settlement for the next financial year in December.

Mr Javid has also vowed to fight for more police funding in next year’s government-wide spending review.

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