Following questioning by Michael Fabricant, Home Office Minister, Paul Goggins, told the House of Commons last night (Monday 6th February) in a debate on the police that the forced police merger program would be funded by the Government to the tune of £125 million but admitted that the actual costs are estimated as being between £430 and £600 million. The Minister said that the shortfall would have to be funded by "further local investment".
Michael Fabricant says: " ‘Further local investment’ is political speak for the local council tax payer. The Association of Police Authorities say that the proposed merger of the West Midlands force will cost an extra £41.8 million which means that Staffordshire council tax will have to rise by at least £30 to fund this.
"I am horrified that the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, has announced in a separate statement yesterday that he intends to drive forward the unwilling merger of the Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Mercia, and West Midlands police forces particularly now we find out that the Government will not even fund this adequately. I am convinced – as is the Chief Constable of West Mercia – that it will damage police services outside urban Birmingham. In 1997, the Government funded all but one-ninth of police services. This has now reduced so that council tax payers have to stump up over a fifth of police spending. This merger will cause this to rise still further.
"So there we have it: diminished policing in Staffordshire costing the council tax payer more."