Reflections on the Public Accounts Committee: police demand, resources, governance and accountability

In June the National Audit Office published a report on the financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales, and laid bare a number of challenges for police forces, police and crime commissioners (PCCs) and the Home Office. I previously outlined some in a comment piece for the Guardian and a blog for PoliceOracle.com. In particular, the NAO found the following:

  • The Home Office funding formula doesn’t consider the circumstances of individual forces.
  • Most police forces don’t understand their demand in detail, nor its relationship to costs.
  • The Home Office doesn’t understand the relationship between cuts and service delivery, nor when individual forces may require additional support

On 13 July the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) launched its own inquiry into the issues raised by the NAO, taking evidence from Mark Sedwill (Permanent Secretary at the Home Office), Sir Thomas Winsor (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary) and Alex Marshall (Chief Executive of the College of Policing). Amidst the posturing that inevitably accompanies these events there was genuine scrutiny provided by a clearly well-briefed committee chair and her fellow members. Three main themes emerged around.

  • How central government police force funding is calculated.
  • A focus on (better understanding) demand.
  • Centralism, localism and accountability.

The Police Foundation has published a paper that summarises the Public Accounts Committee hearing, identifying key points and discussing their implications.

Following the publication of a Home Office consultation on a proposed new police funding model, the Police Foundation has also published a paper that summarises the current and proposed models in clear terms and then critiques the latter.