David Ruffley MP comes out against rise in Suffolk council tax to fund police in House of Commons speech

Thursday, 9 February, 2012

David Ruffley MP was the leading backbencher to speak in today's Police Grant debate this afternoon in the Chamber in the House of Commons.

David Ruffley said: 'The police budget increased by a colossal 20% in real terms from 2000 to 2008, and it made the British Police Force the best resourced it has ever been in the history of this country. It is true from these historically high levels of police funding the Coalition Government has been forced to make funding reductions in order to help pay off the huge debt left by the last Government.

At 31 March 2009 Suffolk Constabulary had 1291 uniformed officers; in March 2010 1246 and in March 2011 1241.

The Constabulary project that by March 2015 there will be a fall from this level. This will depend on the big decision that the Suffolk Police Authority will be taking on 20 February which is fast approaching. If they decide to raise the police precept- that is raise Council Tax- by 3.75% this year the reduction in officers will be small- a loss of 9 uniformed officers to 1232.

On the other hand, if on 20 February they do not raise council tax by 3.75% the total number of uniformed officers will fall to 1189- a loss of 52 officers. I would urge the Constabulary to look again at what further savings it can squeeze out of its budget so that such a reduction is not necessary. Given that the total Police budget for Suffolk is £129 million they have outlined modest cost savings in 2012/2013 of £7.3 million; in 2013/14 of £3.7 million; in 2014/15 of £2.3 million; and in 2015/16 of £0.9 million on a total turnover of £129 million. Such savings are modest by comparison with what private sector organisations can achieve.

In any event, as I said in the House of Commons, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has said that in Suffolk at any one time only 11% of police officers in the county are available for 'visible policing'. It's not the total number of officers employed in the force that is decisive, but rather how many are actually visibly on the front line. The two things are very different. If more officers are moved from middle and back office roles to the front line there is no reason for this spending settlement to damage police visibility.

Read the full text of David Ruffley's speech here: