Posted: Monday 18th August 2014
I would like to apologise if the tone and content of a letter I wrote to the former Policing Minister Damian Green MP in 2013 regarding injury on duty payments has caused any offence or distress to officers within Avon and Somerset and indeed any officer in the country who has been injured in the line of duty.
I absolutely do appreciate the risks and bravery associated with the difficult job of policing. As Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset I regularly meet officers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to protect others, keep people safe and reduce crime. Like all our residents, I greatly value the work, bravery and dedication of our officers who place themselves in harm’s way and of course agree that financial support should be provided when due.
I wrote to Damian Green MP to highlight a number of issues where local budget setting is restricted by central government decisions and legislation. This included highlighting the unfairness of the police funding formula on Avon and Somerset, which still sees the area miss out on £10 million a year it is assessed to need.
I also asked the Minister to look at central funding for certain aspects of policing such as Injury on Duty (IoD) payments. This was in order to consider pooling the IoD liabilities nationally rather than make local forces meet the commitments from current reduced income.
Central Government has already set some precedent for central funding and management for certain policing areas, rather than using local funds such as police pensions or counter terrorism or national fraud investigations. It was entirely appropriate given the annual cost of IoD payments is over £5.5 million in Avon & Somerset, to ask the Policing Minister to review this expenditure centrally within the bounds of legislation and guidance.
I appreciate that the part of my letter which has caused most concern and has been deemed as disrespectful by officers is the line that these ‘payments generate no benefit to the people of Avon & Somerset.’ This was a very clumsy point and for this I whole-heartedly apologise. It was never my intention to devalue those who have been injured in the line of duty or disrespect officers who face the daily risk of being injured while keeping our communities safe. Along with residents I am extremely thankful to all police officers who serve their communities demonstrating extraordinary acts of courage and bravery.
At a time of reducing police resources I was simply asking all the questions I could in order to maintain the frontline and sustain policing at its current level with Avon and Somerset. I have a duty to ensure that every aspect of the budget is looked at and reviewed. This does not mean that I have or did have any intention to disrespect officers injured on duty in the questions that I raised with the Minister.
Policing is a tough job and the questions I raised were not meant in any way to undermine the brave, passionate and dedicated work of police officers. I continue to be proud of the excellent work by officers and staff across Avon and Somerset.
Click here to read the letters released under FOI