Headlines: May 13th, 2010

Spending on the police in England and Wales grew by almost half in the last decade according to the first independent study of police authority expenditure between 1999 and last year. The report, from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, finds spending grew in real terms from 9.83 billion pounds in 1998 -1999 to 14.55 billion ten years later.

Today’s report also shows that much of the burden of this rise fell on local council taxpayers, rather than the Home Office. The Centre says the report, published as part of a three part series of briefings on criminal justice spending supported by the Hadley Trust, will be required reading for policy makers, chief constables, police authorities, local government officials and others.

Just over three quarters of the increased spend went on staffing. In 2009 there were a record 142,151 police officers, 15,337 more than in 1998. The growth in civilian staff, including police community support offices had outstripped this. Capital expenditure, which accounts for only about five per cent of total spending, more than doubled over the decade.

Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, called for a public debate on priorities and choices. “Spending has gone up by nearly a half but the value of this huge increase is much harder to pin down. We now have the largest police service ever. Yet there seems to be no clear rationale behind this incremental growth, nor a clear measure of its success,” he said.