Train­ing deal could hit of­fi­cer num­bers

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

A ROW over how po­lice train­ing is funded could re­sult in 45 fewer of­fi­cers in North Wales and po­ten­tial re­cruits choos­ing to work in Eng­land in­stead.

That’s the warn­ing from Wales’ po­lice and crime com­mis­sion­ers and chief con­sta­bles as they call for ur­gent ac­tion over an ap­pren­tice­ship levy they say is putting Welsh forces at a “huge dis­ad­van­tage”.

The All-Wales Polic­ing Group has voiced its con­cerns in a let­ter to Mark Drake­ford, the Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for Fi­nance and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment.

The group’s chair, North Wales Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner Ar­fon Jones, says the four Welsh forces are pay­ing a to­tal of £2m and he fears they’ll get noth­ing in re­turn.

The UK Gov­ern­ment has agreed a fund­ing deal for the levy for Wales, Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land in which each de­volved gov­ern­ment will re­ceive a share of money paid in based on their pop­u­la­tion.

In Eng­land the money forces pay into the levy goes to the English po­lice col­lege. But in Wales it goes to the Welsh Gov­ern­ment, which is due to get back a to­tal of al­most £400m over the next three years.

But Mr Jones says that be­cause the Welsh Gov­ern­ment is not re­spon­si­ble for polic­ing there’s a big ques­tion mark over whether any of the money paid in by Welsh po­lice forces can be spent on of­fi­cer train­ing.

He said: “We are most con­cerned that the un­cer­tainty that ex­ists in Wales will cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where English forces are more at­trac­tive to po­ten­tial re­cruits than Welsh forces. Ul­ti­mately, this will be to the detri­ment of Welsh com­mu­ni­ties.

“Welsh po­lice forces are now at a se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial dis­ad­van­tage and in fu­ture will be dis­ad­van­tage in terms of train­ing com­pared to our English coun­ter­parts. Un­der the English fund­ing model, 92% of the costs of train­ing would be met through the ap­pren­tice­ship levy, with only 8% be­ing borne di­rectly by the forces. In con- trast, the fund­ing ar­range­ments in Wales mean forces here would have to bear be­tween 95 and 100% of the costs them­selves.

“Un­der such pres­sures, Welsh forces might have to lower the stan­dard of train­ing and it would be re­gret­table to break away from the uni­form stan­dards that are cur­rently in place.

“Be­ing forced to fund the train­ing from ex­ist­ing re­sources would in­evitably have an im­pact on front­line polic­ing.”

He added: “We are seek­ing an ur­gent res­o­lu­tion to this is­sue be­cause an un­funded cost of nearly £10m of the Po­lice Ed­u­ca­tion Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Frame­work is equiv­a­lent to 200 fewer of­fi­cers in Wales – this equates to 86 of­fi­cers in South Wales, 45 in North Wales, 35 in Dyfed Powys and 34 in Gwent.

“This will be in ad­di­tion to the re­duc­tions that Welsh forces have al­ready suf­fered since 2010, which has seen a re­duc­tion of over 2,500 po­lice of­fi­cers and staff, equiv­a­lent to the en­tire re­sources of North Wales Po­lice.”

A Home Of­fice spokesman said: “All po­lice forces pay the ap­pren­tice­ship levy, and in Wales those funds are passed back to the Welsh Gov­ern­ment through an ar­range­ment agreed with HM Trea­sury.”

A Welsh Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: “The Com­mu­ni­ties Sec­re­tary, the Fi­nance Sec­re­tary and the Skills Min­is­ter have jointly writ­ten to the Home Sec­re­tary about the im­pact of the Polic­ing Ed­u­ca­tion and Qual­i­fi­ca­tion Frame­work. While we are sup­port­ive of the PEGF in prin­ci­ple, we have been clear that re­spon­si­bil­ity for op­er­a­tional polic­ing mat­ters, in­clud­ing train­ing, rests solely with the Home Of­fice and it should fund train­ing un­til polic­ing is de­volved.

“The ap­pren­tice­ship levy is a UK Gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ment tax which di­rectly con­flicts with ar­eas of de­volved re­spon­si­bil­ity. The levy is be­ing im­posed on Wales at con­sid­er­able cost.

“It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber this levy is be­ing col­lected at a time when the UK Gov­ern­ment has cut Wales’ fund­ing by £1.2bn in real terms since 2010-11.”

North Wales Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner Ar­fon Jones says North Wales could miss out un­der a po­lice train­ing fund­ing scheme

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.