Wiltshire PCC lobbies PM candidates on fairer funding for rural forces
Wiltshire and Swindon’s PCC Philip Wilkinson has been taking part in briefings this week with both potential Conservative Leader candidates, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.
Both politicians are vying for party votes to secure themselves as the next party leader and Prime Minister - and Mr Wilkinson took the opportunity to raise this funding disparity, which he says was acknowledged and supported by both.
Rural police forces are left significantly disadvantaged by the current funding formula used by central government to allocate policing budget – with Wiltshire currently the fourth-lowest funded force in the country.
And Mr Wilkinson, who has joined together with other Conservative PCCs to lobby for change, said now was the time for the country’s next Prime Minister to really commit to the biggest shake up of funding the policing service has seen in decades.
“The current funding formula is grossly unfair to rural forces and to rural residents who are bearing the brunt of this outdated policy,” Mr Wilkinson said.
“This means there is less money per head of population to fight crime and provide the quality policing service that officers want to deliver and that residents want to be on the receiving end of.
“Modern-day policing has seen increased demand without funding increasing to deal with the ever-changing policing landscape. This formula hasn’t been revisited since it was first overhauled by Labour in the 90s to favour more urban areas and now it is time for the next UK Prime Minister to commit to change to benefit all.”
Mr Wilkinson added just because the county is rural does not mean that the same crimes faced by urban areas aren’t felt here.
“Crime doesn’t stop at county boundaries - Wiltshire has problems with county lines drugs, with modern slavery, with cyber crime and fraud alongside increasing domestic abuse, serious sexual offences and child sexual exploitation, just as urban areas do,” he continued.
“The dominance of the internet, and easier communications, means our worlds have become smaller and criminals can, and do, use this for their own gain.
“We also need our country’s top politicians to realise that rural crime, and the impact this brings upon our farmers and our rural communities, also needs prioritising – especially as the grip of the cost-of-living crisis takes hold.
“We also have the vast swathe of Salisbury Plain in the middle of our county which is a magnet for hare coursers and organised criminal gangs using Wiltshire’s green assets for their own gain.
“Granted we may not see the same scale of crime here but Wiltshire Police needs to have the means necessary to deliver a quality policing service which tackles crimes which matter to our communities.
“And I see it as my role to persuade our next Leader to rebalance the police funding formula and to fund Wiltshire Police to the same level as those Labour-led urban cities, such as London, Manchester and Liverpool.”