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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

How police budgets work

Your police force receives money from both national and local governments every year. While they have some freedom in how they spend the money, there are fairly strict limitations on spending. You have a right to know how much your local force spends.

The role of police authorities

Britain does not have a single national police force. Instead in England and Wales there are 43 individual forces. Each force operates under guidelines set by the Home Office, but each police force has a police authority, which is mainly responsible for funding each force.

These authorities are independent organisations made up of local councillors, residents and a local magistrate. They set the strategic direction for the force and hold chief constables to account on behalf of the local community.

You can contact your local police authority if you have issues with or concerns about your police force.

Police authorities are responsible for:

  • overseeing the force’s budget, and deciding how much council tax should be spent on policing
  • choosing the chief constable and senior police officers
  • working closely with local residents to find out what they want from their local police
  • setting local policing goals
  • ensuring residents get good value from their local force
  • overseeing complaints against the police

Where police funding comes from

The money spent by your local police comes from a mixture of sources including local council tax and government funding.

Police receive grants from the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Welsh Assembly government. The Police Finance and Pensions Unit (PFPU) at the Home Office oversees those grants.

The Home Office then divides the grants among police authorities.

How the money is spent

Most funding is given to various police units for specific police work by police authorities, chief constables and senior police officers.

Some funding from the Home Office must be spent to pay for national programmes required by the government, such as the Airwave Communications Project to improve police communications.

The rest of the money is given to police by a ‘relative needs’ formula, which is used to decide how much each force actually requires.

How much the Home Office spends on police

The Home Office calculates each year how much is spent on policing in England and Wales.

Figures for the most recent years are:

  • 2010-11 (expected spending) £4,808,807,759
  • 2009-10 £4,682,677,857
  • 2008-09 £4,559,863,930
  • 2007-08  £4,432,973,642

Find out how much your police force spends

Many police forces make their annual budgets available on their websites. Check your local force’s website to see if their budget is there.

If it isn’t, you can request a copy directly from your local force.

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