House of Commons Library

Police funding

Published Friday, February 26, 2016

The existing police funding arrangements have been criticised as being complex and lacking transparency. In 2015 the Government consulted on proposals for reform of police funding in England and Wales. These reforms have been delayed. This briefing looks at existing arrangements for police funding in all parts of the UK and explains the proposed new funding formula for England and Wales.

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This briefing explains the existing funding arrangements for police forces. It focuses on revenue funding for the territorial police forces of the United Kingdom. Police receive separate grants for capital purposes.

The briefing also examines the proposed new funding formula for police forces in England and Wales (now delayed until 2017/18) and briefly considers the reductions in funding experienced by forces since 2010/11.

Police funding is devolved in Scotland and partly devolved in Wales. Different arrangements are in place for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Section 1 considers arrangements in each part of the UK.

In England and Wales the main source of income for the 43 geographic police forces is central government grant made available through the annual Home Office Police Grant Report.

Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales can also raise additional revenue funding through council tax precepts. The two police forces in London also receive some funding through council tax precepts. In addition the two London forces receive an extra grant to reflect the extra burden placed on resources to police the capital.

In Scotland, the eight area forces were merged into a single force in 2013. Since then the Scottish Government has funded policing directly through the Scottish Police Authority. Local authorities are no longer required to fund area police forces and the Police Authority has no power to levy a council tax precept for households in Scotland. Local authorities in Scotland are still able to fund additional police officers to work on particular priorities within their local areas.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is funded by HM Treasury. The Northern Ireland Policing Board is responsible for bidding for funds from the Treasury.

All forces in the UK have been subject to reductions in funding. The scale of reductions and the impact on the number of officers is considered in section 2.

The Government has consulted on proposals for new funding arrangements for police forces in England and Wales. It is generally accepted that the existing formula is no longer appropriate and the Government wants to replace the existing funding formula with a simplified formula. However, following statistical errors having been discovered in the funding proposals, the Government has decided to delay changes to police funding for 2016/17. This is considered in more detail in section 3.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7279

Authors: Neil Johnston; Ben Politowski

Topics: Administration of justice, Emergency services

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