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Gloucestershire will have fewer police officers than in 2010 under new Tory funding plans

Gloucestershire will be left with fewer police officers than it had in 2010 despite Tory government plans to recruit an extra 20,000 officers nationally, it can be revealed.

Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Cheltenham Max Wilkinson has been told by local police bosses that Gloucestershire Constabulary expects to be able to recruit an extra 200 officers as part of the government funding pledge.

But this would still fall short of replacing the 249 Gloucestershire police officers lost since 2010 as a result of Tory funding cuts.

Since 2010, Gloucestershire Constabulary has suffered a £23million cut in central government funding and has been forced to plug the gap with an extra £18m from council tax.

The figures were revealed by Martin Surl, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, after an enquiry to the PCC’s office by Max.

Reacting to the PCC’s response, Max said: “Tory austerity has decimated public services and left vital frontline forces such as the police on their knees.

“The government’s recent announcement of plans to recruit 20,000 new police officers nationwide is yet more smoke and mirrors from the Tories.

“In reality, even if Gloucestershire Constabulary gets its fair share of the new funding, it will still have 49 fewer police officers than it did in 2010.

“We need more visible community policing in the county as we see rising levels of crime, such as anti-social behaviour.

“The Lib Dems have pledged to right the wrongs of Tory austerity and increase community policing, investing an extra £300m a year in local police forces.

"I will fight as hard as I can to make sure Gloucestershire police get their fair share of this new government money."

Earlier this month, the government announced plans to recruit 20,000 new police officers nationwide over the next three years.

Under the current police funding formula, Gloucestershire Constabulary, like other smaller, rural police forces, receives less Home Office funding than larger, metropolitan forces.

This means local taxpayers are forced to shoulder the burden to ensure Gloucestershire receives anything close to adequate funding.

In the force’s 2018/19 budget of £111.2m, 53% (£59.3m) came from central government and 47% (£51.9m) came from council tax.

In comparison, the Metropolitan Police’s budget for the same year was comprised of 75% central government funding and 25% council tax.

Mr Surl’s figures also reveal that Gloucestershire Constabulary’s £119.9m budget for 2019/20 is £11.1m less than its budget for 2010/11, allowing for pay rises and inflation.

Since 2010, the grant received from the Home Office for Gloucestershire Constabulary has reduced from £67.9m to £55.5m in 2019/20 – a reduction of £12.4m (18%). The real term reduction in grant, allowing for pay rises and inflation, is £23m.

During this period, council tax contributions have had to be increased from 36% to nearly 50% (from £40m to £58m) to offset the reductions in grant and to fund pay rises and inflation.

This has meant the loss of 249 police officers, 79 other staff and 32 PCSOs since 2010.

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