The current police funding formula is ‘broken’ and has left forces unable to fight crime in the countryside, according to Shadow Policing Minister Louise Haigh.
Ms Haigh made the remarks during a parliamentary debate called by the Labour Party on rural crime last week.
At the moment, the formula used to distribute funding from central Government to police forces focuses on expected levels of recorded crime.
It does not take into account the larger areas rural police forces cover or the impact big numbers of visitors have in the summer months.
“I am deeply unsatisfied with the resources available for policing and with the funding formula on which we base our police funding at the moment”, Ms Haigh said.
“Clearly the police funding formula needs to take into account the real picture of demand and pressure facing every police force. We know that the current funding formula is broken.
“It uses age-old data and does not reflect the needs, demands and pressures on forces, nor the modern demands of policing.”
Ms Haigh also took aim at Government cuts, which she claimed had led to a ‘sense that rural crime is more trivial’.
“At the heart of our policing model is community policing, but this is what has been most affected by eight years of austerity”, she said.
“Those rural community policing beats are essential in preventing, detecting and tackling crime in rural areas.
“And yet, in many rural forces, neighbourhood teams have been completely abolished or merged with response teams, which effectively means the same thing.”
The Shadow Minister criticised the closure of police stations in rural areas too, because it forces police officers to drive long distances to take offenders into custody, taking them off the streets for ‘considerable periods of time’.
She would not, however, commit to re-opening them.
Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins responded to the concerns by saying the Government was ‘committed to providing police forces in England and Wales with the resources they need to do their crucial work’.
“This is precisely why in 2015 the then Home Secretary insisted in the spending review that the Government protected overall police funding in real terms, and we have done so since”, she added.