Jonathan Edwards writes his weekly column for the Carmarthenshire Herald.
Last week I attended a very useful briefing by Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn and Dyfed Powys Police on the plans of the UK Government to review the funding formula which determines the Home Office Police Grant to forces in Wales and England. I was surprised that not a single Conservative or Labour MP representing the Dyfed Powys Police force area was present, but as the briefing went on it became quite apparent why they had decided to avoid the meeting.
A previous review was fortunately aborted in the Spring. If the Tories had pursued their preferred model based on a crude analysis of crime statistics it could have led to a budget cut of over £7m for Dyfed Powys Police equating to 16% of the total budget. This is of course on top of 20% cuts made by the UK Government to our Police Service in recent years.
The new Police Minister has announced that he will consult on the new criteria during the Autumn and it is vital that as much political pressure as possible is put on the Home Office to introduce a model which truly reflects the costs of policing a large geographical area such as Dyfed Powys.
If the Tories decide to butcher the funding for our Police services in Wales further it is inevitable that local residents will have to make an even greater contribution via the annual precept. Traditionally the communities of Dyfed Powys contribute disproportionally far more for their policing services via the precept. Its typical tricky Tory accounting to stand election for Westminster on the promise of reduced income tax whilst pursuing a strategy of pushing the costs for providing services onto other forms of taxation – in this case local rates. Whilst income tax is progressive – ie the more you earn the more you pay – other forms of taxation are not necessarily so. Therefore these typical Westminster accounting tricks are one reason why income inequality within the UK is so appalling.
The 4 Welsh Police Forces are more vulnerable than counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Whereas our Celtic cousins receive funding via usual Barnett allocations, our Police services are tied to Westminster.
As a result of our inferior constitutional settlement we have we lost vital assets such as our Police helicopter. We now face a stealth Tory tax bombshell for funding police services in our communities. The next time you see a Tory or Labour politician ask them why they continuously oppose Wales taking control over police services.