A NORTH-EAST MP has written to the Home Secretary calling for help to cover the cost of a police bonus which could cost the region’s forces millions of pounds.

In his letter sent this week to Amber Rudd, Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson raises concerns about the future of policing in the area as a result of the mandatory one-off one per cent pay award rank and file officers will receive.

Durham Police and Cleveland Police have already confirmed the Government-directed bonus will cost the forces £500,000.

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With no further investment from Parliament, the rise will have to paid using current budgets.

But Mr Wilson along with Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) in the region have warned of the impact it could have on frontline staff numbers and fighting crime.

He writes: “The decision regarding the national pay award is welcome news for police officers who have seen their pay cut in real terms in recent years.

“However, the fact that it is unfunded does give me cause for concern.

"The estimated cost to Durham is approximately £0.5m and the choice for Durham is to either take it out of reserves, which have been earmarked for other purposes, or reduce officer numbers by approximately 12 for the 12 month period covered by the one per cent pay award.”

The politician asks that the estimated £12m to £15m generated in income tax and national insurance nationally from the bonus to offset the cost to police forces.

He adds: “I would propose that the Treasury and Home Office give back the equivalent amount to police forces in the form of a one off grant to compensate local constabularies who are seeing an increase in crime and a reduction in resources.”

Durham PCC Ron Hogg earlier this month wrote to the Home Office warning of the effect of cuts.

He cited a 25 per cent reduction in officers across Durham Police since 2010 and a recent figures showing a 25 per cent increase in victim-based recorded crime.

On Friday Mr Hogg pledged his support to Mr Wilson’s plea, adding: “I believe that the funding for this bonus, which police officers absolutely deserve, should come from the Treasury.

"The Government has placed yet another burden on local police forces who will not have budgeted for it.”

Cleveland PCC Barry Coppinger this month said he believed the bonus should be centrally funded. He labelled the move as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

Mr Wilson has also called for equality for the bonus which will only go to police officers, leaving out staff including PCSOs and crime scene investigators.

A statement issued by the Home Office this month said: “This award strikes a fair balance for police forces, officers and taxpayers. We believe it’s affordable within the current police funding settlement.”