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NAO report on Financial sustainability of police forces - published today

Today the National Audit Office published our report on 'Financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales', along with a summary infographic.

In this report, we state that police forces have successfully reduced costs since 2010-11, and crime has reduced over the same period. But this is an incomplete picture: the available indicators of financial stress are limited, and there are insufficient measures of service stress. Crime statistics do not capture all crime, and the police do more than deal with crime-related incidents. However, most forces do not have a thorough evidence-based understanding of demand, or what affects their costs. It is therefore difficult for them to transform services intelligently, show how much resource they need, and demonstrate that they are delivering value for money.

We conclude that while forces and police and crime commissioners are responsible for demonstrating value for money locally, the Home Office is ultimately responsible for overseeing the police, distributing funding and assuring Parliament that forces are providing value for money. The Home Office needs to be better informed to discharge this role. We recommend that it should work with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the College of Policing, Commissioners and police forces to develop better information to give the Department more assurance on the health of the service, particularly around demand and on when forces may be at risk of failing to meet the policing needs of local communities.

Graphic: Financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales


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