Coronavirus costing Northumbria Police almost £3million, says crime comissioner

The spiralling costs of tackling the coronavirus crisis could total almost £3million for Northumbria Police.

By Daniel Holland
Thursday, 7th May 2020, 2:16 am
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuiness
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuiness

Police and crime commissioner (PCC) Kim McGuinness has called on the government to reimburse the “vast majority” of the extra money it has been forced to spend in response to the pandemic.

Force finance chiefs say that, in a worst-case prediction, the estimated cost of Covid-19 to Northumbria Police is £2.87million.

That includes £863,000 spent on procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff, £811,000 to cover extra staffing costs like overtime pay, and £258,000 on IT upgrades to allow people to work from home.

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The force also expects to lose around £1million in income that it would normally get from policing events like football matches, and because of reduced patrols at Newcastle Airport and on the Metro.

Councils have repeatedly warned that they are facing a financial crisis if the government fails to cover their massive losses incurred during the pandemic.

While Ms McGuinness said she had “no concern” about the force’s cash flow and that there has been no impact on recruiting new police officers, she has urged the government to step in and guarantee that it will cover the extra costs.

The coronavirus measures are currently being funded from the force’s own coffers and some of the money may have to come from its cash reserves, though the PCC said “this is what they are there for”.

Ms McGuinness said: “Our staff need to get, from a financial point of view, what they need to keep the public safe and our officers safe. I will be making the ask to government to say that we need the vast majority of that money reimbursed.”

She added: “We need an assurance from the government that we will continue to get the appropriate amount of PPE, that our police officers can get tested, and that we will be reimbursed for the crucial parts of fighting the coronavirus at a local level.

“That is a promise the government has made and that we need them to fulfil.”

After the government expanded Covid-19 testing to police earlier this month, some Northumbria officers who were self-isolating have been able to return to work knowing that it was safe to do so.

Ms McGuinness said: “Healthcare workers and carers obviously need to be prioritised, but you cannot underestimate the role that our officers and staff play. They are with the public every day and if you look at places like custody suites, we have had staff up close and personal with the public without knowing whether or not they had Covid.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “These are unprecedented times. The police will have the financial support they need and we have already taken steps to increase funding available for forces to meet the pressures caused by the coronavirus.

“The National Police Chief’s Council, who is overseeing distribution of personal protective equipment say the police currently have a good supply.”

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