Business leaders criticise ‘bizarre’ police funding system

8 Jun 09
The police funding system is ‘bizarre’ and inhibits any reform efforts, business leaders said this week

By Vivienne Russell

05 June 2009

The police funding system is ‘bizarre’ and inhibits any reform efforts, business leaders said this week.

Addressing the Police Federation on June 2, CBI director general Richard Lambert speculated that the economic downturn would fuel an increase in crime, particularly property-related crime, fraud and civil disorder. Demands on the police would therefore intensify.

The response had to be to improve productivity rather than call for extra resources, he said. But the current funding system was singled out as a barrier to achieving productivity gains.

‘Just how this [funding system] meets the appropriate balance between resource allocation and the actual need for funding is very hard to tell,’ Lambert said.

He cited a report from the Reform think-tank, which argued that the current funding model ‘inhibited police forces from investing money where it might be most useful, and eroded the incentives to spend effectively and efficiently’.

Lambert also said forces should make greater efforts to use collaborative procurement and share back-office functions.

He questioned whether the police service was doing enough to recruit people with specialist finance and other business skills. ‘It’s not clear that they are [doing enough], or even that they can be,’ he said.

‘And the pay structure… appears to put weight on length of service in a way that may also make it difficult to bring in specialist talent in areas such as IT and finance.’

He added: ‘Of course, experience must be of enormous importance to the workings of the police.’ But he questioned whether this should come at the expense of the specialist talent required to run a large and complex institution.


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