Northumbria Police has lost a quarter of funding since 2010 - the highest in England

Northumbria Police and Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC.
Northumbria Police and Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC.

Government ‘dithering’ has seen North East police endure the deepest budget cuts of any force in the country, it has been claimed.

According to figures from the National Audit Office (NAO), Northumbria Police has seen its real term funding slump by a quarter since 2010, the biggest in England.

At the other end of the scale, Surrey Police, based in one of the wealthiest parts of the country, had a total funding reduction of just 11 per cent in the last eight years.

Responding to the findings, Dame Vera Baird QC, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, said she had consistently called on the Prime Minister and Home Office to reform police funding.

She added: “The National Audit Office report reinforces what Labour PCCs have been telling government.

“The Home Secretary now needs to stop dithering on police funding and take decisive action to give Northumbria the fair funding formula it deserves.

“The Home Secretary must not move the cost of policing from government to council tax payers – if he tries that, I will tackle him every step of the way.”

Durham Constabulary is another hit hard by cuts, losing 22 per cent in real terms since 2010, compared to a national average of 19 per cent across English forces.

Northumbria and Durham  are also two of the most dependent on government cash, which makes up 81 and 69 per cent of their budgets, respectively.

The NAO’s report claimed forces most reliant on government money had seen the biggest cuts.

At the same time it warned Home Office mandarins did not take into account ‘the full range of demands on police time’ when allocating resources.

And it added forces may have to scale back policing to be able to balance their budgets.

In a damning conclusion, the report said: “The Home Office’s light touch approach to overseeing police forces means it does not know if the police system is financially sustainable.

“It lacks a long-term plan for policing and significant gaps remain in its understanding of demand for police services and their costs.

“The way the Department chooses to distribute funding has been ineffective and detached from the changing nature of policing for too long, and it cannot be sure overall funding is being directed to the right places.”