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West Midlands Police could lose out on funding to rural forces

Funding for West Midlands Police could be cut as part of the Government’s plan to change the way cash for forces is shared out across the country

The Home Office is set to cut budgets for big city police forces such as West Midlands Police and hand the cash over to rural forces, it has been claimed.

And Home Secretary Theresa May refused to deny cuts were planned when she was challenged in the House of Commons and instead said police funding “needs to change”.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, David Jamieson (Lab), said it was “shocking” that funding for the West Midlands was under threat.

Funding for West Midlands Police could be cut as part of the Government’s plan to change the way cash for forces is shared out across the country.

It wants to give a fairer deal to police forces in rural areas, which complain they receive much less money than forces serving major towns and cities such as Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country.

The Government drew up a new funding system last year – but then delayed the changes after admitting it had got its sums wrong.

Plans to hand cash to rural areas appear to have been revealed in a report by the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner of Northamptonshire Police, Adam Simmonds, which he sent to his local Police and Crime Panel.

He said: “The new funding formula proposals have been deferred to 2017-18 it is not clear at this stage how this will affect the government funding.

“However, it is expected that this will transfer funding from the urban areas to the more rural and Northamptonshire may benefit.”

Speaking in the House of Commons, Birmingham MP Richard Burden (Lab Birmingham Northfield) asked Mrs May whether this was correct.

He said: “Has she seen the statement from the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner to his Panel on February?”

He added: “Now, is he reflecting government policy, or is he just letting the cat out of the bag?”

Mrs May said: “We have very clearly said that the proposed funding formula changes that we were proposing before Christmas were not going ahead. We are pausing that process. We are looking again at how we can develop a funding formula that is reflective of needs.”

In the West Midlands £126 million has been cut from the police budget over the past five years .

It meant between September 2014 and September 2015, the number of police officers fell by 112.

Chancellor George Osborne promised this year that there would be no further police cuts, although funding for West Midlands Police does appear to have been cut from £452 million to £450 million.

However, police forces could gain or lose money as a result of changes to the way the cash is shared out even if the total national police budget remains the same.

Mr Jamieson said: “The Home Secretary has let the cat out the bag on police funding.

“Theresa May has refused to deny that the West Midlands will be losing out again to lower crime rural areas when it comes to police funding.”

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