Suffolk ‘no longer a rural idyll’ as police take on 21st century challenges

Waveney MP Peter Aldous speaking in the House of Commons Picture: PARLIAMENTLIVETV

Waveney MP Peter Aldous speaking in the House of Commons Picture: PARLIAMENTLIVETV - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk MP has called for a shake-up of police funding to address “long-term disparities” between the county’s force and others across the country.

Peter Aldous told the Commons that the Constabulary was often meeting challenges “with one arm tied behind its back” due to variance in Home Office funding.

Mr Aldous, Conservative MP for Waveney, has been outspoken on funding for the force, which deals with one of the highest workloads per officer while receiving among the lowest financial settlements.

Debating a motion to approve the Police Grant Report, Mr Aldous, said: “Suffolk police does a great job, but if it is to continue to do so into the long term, its funding settlement needs a radical shake-up.”

Despite Suffolk being one of the most rural counties in the country, Mr Aldous said it faced additional 21st-century challenges, including county lines drug distribution, an increasingly elderly population, with the number of citizens with dementia predicted to rise to more than 18,000 by 2025, and significant areas of deprivation, not just in his constituent town of Lowestoft but often hidden in rural areas.

Suffolk police will gain an extra £9.2m in total resource funding for 2019/20 – based on a 12.7% rise in its share of council tax.

Mr Aldous said it would help, in the short term, to meet additional pension liability, fund a 2% pay increase and recruit more officers, but that police could not continue meeting increased demand if disparities were not addressed.

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Actual core funding will go up £800,000 to £41m – the ninth smallest total in the country. The tax rise will raise £6.5m and fund 29 officers, 24 investigators and a share of 45 staff with Norfolk.

Mr Aldous told the House Suffolk was a great place to live, but added: “From a crime perspective, I am afraid that it is no longer a rural idyll.”

He said residents were “increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo” and called for a sustainable funding system to be put in place through the spending review expected this summer.

The Home Office has said it is ensuring police have the resources they need by providing the most substantial funding increase since 2010, and that the formula would be assessed in the context of the forthcoming spending review.

Its first priority when reviewing the formula, it said, was to create an evidence base to determine overall funding before calculating how best to divide it.