Leighton Andrews, Minister for Public Services
The Welsh Government’s Programme for Government included a commitment to fund the recruitment of an additional 500 Community Support Officers (CSOs). Recruitment of the 500 CSOs was achieved in October 2013, through close joint working between the Welsh Government, the four Welsh police forces and British Transport Police. Funding is provided to forces, via Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), by means of a specific Welsh Government CSO grant.
I recently provided Members with an update on delivery of this commitment, and this statement sets out our requirements in relation to additionality.
CSOs were created by the Police Reform Act 2002, and were initially supported via a specific Home Office grant. This specific grant was abolished and funding rolled into core, non-hypothecated police grant. From 2013-14, those CSOs not funded through the specific Welsh Government CSO grant, are mainly funded through core police funding with a few part funded by other organisations with interests in improving community safety.
The delivery of the commitment to fund an additional 500 CSOs represents a significant Welsh Government investment in making communities in Wales safer, at a time when overall levels of public funding have faced sustained and unprecedented pressures. In particular, the investment has been made during a period when policing has seen significant reductions in funding. Forces across England and Wales were given a four-year spending profile in October 2010 which equated to a 20 percent reduction in central government grant over the spending review period and such reductions look set to continue.
In making this investment, the Welsh Government has therefore been clear that the funding made available is not intended to plug gaps created by reductions in other funding sources. The terms and conditions under which the grant funding for CSOs is provided are clear – the funding is for the employment of CSOs who are in addition to the planned policing levels (police officers and CSOs) as funded from other sources, taking into account any changes to those plans resulting from fluctuations in funding from those sources.
These ‘additionality’ conditions were agreed between the Welsh Government, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Cymru, British Transport Police and the Police Authorities Wales during the establishment of the CSO Programme and the development of the Terms and Conditions for the CSO Grant. Each Police Authority formally agreed these conditions as part of the initial grant offer, and subsequently PCCs also confirmed their acceptance.
The Welsh Government has always recognised the likelihood that overall police numbers would decrease over the spending review period. Monitoring additionality therefore poses a number of challenges, and a series of principles have been agreed to address these challenges. These are set out in the Terms and Conditions of the grant. The theme underpinning the additionality principles is the need for transparency in respect of current staffing levels, staffing plans, changes to plans, and of the arrangements for recruiting and, if applicable, redeploying the new CSOs.
The additionality requirements and principles do not mean the investment in the additional 500 CSOs should lead to an overall increase in the police workforce of 500, and they do not require an increase of 500 in the overall number of CSOs employed by the four Welsh forces. Neither are the requirements based on a principle of parity, or each force having at least as many core-funded CSOs as those funded through the Welsh Government Grant.
Rather, they require the overall police workforce to be 500 people more than would have been the case had the Welsh Government CSO grant not been provided. They do not compromise or fetter the operational independence of the Chief Constables to deploy their police officers and CSOs, or the accountability of Chief Constables to the Police and Crime Commissioners.
My officials receive quarterly updates on the numbers of police officers, CSOs and police staff as part of grant monitoring processes, and a Steering Group consisting of Welsh Government officials and ACPO Cymru representatives monitors compliance with additionality requirements and principles. I have also recently written to PCCs to remind them of the importance of continued compliance with these requirements.