In Parliament today, Richard raised the issue of unfair funding of Bedfordshire Police, which has gone on since 2004 when the concept of “damping” was introduced to the police national funding formula. This has meant that a number of police forces, including Bedfordshire, have not received the full amount of funding that the national police funding formula said they should.
In today's debate, Richard challenged this Policing Minister to be the one to find a way of giving Bedfordshire Police 'the funding they deserve'.
Speaking in the debate, Richard Fuller, Member of Parliament for North East Bedfordshire said:
"In Bedfordshire we have an outstanding Police and Crime Commissioner in Kathryn Holloway, who has cleaned out some of the problems she inherited, implemented a number of her programmes and created a strong basis for Bedfordshire Police. She and Festus Akinbusoye, the candidate for PCC in the elections in May, have clear plans that will deliver a fair amount of effective policing across the whole of Bedfordshire."
Thanking Bedfordshire Police, Richard added:
"In our relatively small county, our police not only have to deal with the regular crime that affects many other parts of the country, but have a special responsibility for security in and around our airport at Luton. They have responsibilities for motorway networks that course through Bedfordshire. They have issues of social community cohesion in our urban centres and they have to deal with rural crime as well. For any police force, they would be immense challenges at the best of times, but for Bedfordshire police in these difficult covid times, it has required of our officers an exceptional level of dedication and service."
Richard also thanked the Government for delivering increased numbers of officers into Bedfordshire, and this year in particular, delivering an above national average increase with Bedfordshire having already received an additional 54 officers as a result of the December 2019 manifesto pledge to deliver 20,000 extra police officers nationwide by 2023.
Richard also raised with the Minister the two issues that are of importance locally which Festus Akinbusoye, the PCC candidate in May's election is prioritising. The first is to be able to continue the commitment to provide community based policing across Bedfordshire, which would require the government to ensure that the Conservative manifesto commitment to increasing police numbers will continue. Secondly, a renewed focus on drug rehabilitation programmes which will help with crime prevention in Bedfordshire and across the country too as Bedfordshire is the source of large numbers of drugs that spread across the country.
In responding, the Minister said that the commitment to the 20,000 police officers 'is about as rock-solid as it gets'. The Minister, who has recently visited Bedfordshire police, has seen the burdens that crime, in particular serious and organised crime, places on the force and confirmed that the national funding formula would be reviewed this side of the election and that the scoping work has already started in the Home Office.