A GOVERNMENT select committee has heard grave concerns from policing chiefs in the region over funding reforms, as North Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner threatened the Government with legal action over proposed cuts.

The Home Affairs select committee today (Tuesday, November 3) heard evidence from chief constables and police commissioners on proposed changes to police funding.

The committee also considered a letter from North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan and six other PCCs to policing minister Mike Penning. The letter informed the minister they were taking legal advice on launching a judicial review if concerns on proposed police funding changes weren’t addressed.

The letter urged him to delay a decision on force budgets expected in the Government's spending review this month.

Mrs Mulligan said changes to the funding formula could lead to the force losing out on another £16m on top of the £20m cuts already budgeted over the next four years.

Mrs Mulligan said it didn’t take the additional cost of policing a sparse population over a large geographical area, adding: "I feel it's disadvantageous to large rural forces like ours because the criteria they use in it are focused on things like urban adversity and based on permanent population, and of course we have a lot of visitors coming to North Yorkshire - 18 million across the county - and it takes no account at all of those."

Stephen Greenhalgh, London's deputy mayor for policing and crime, has signed the cross-party letter along with the commissioners of the Cumbria, Lancashire, Devon and Cornwall, Merseyside, North Yorkshire and Thames Valley forces.

One of those giving evidence at this afternoon’s (November 3) select committee was Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg. He told the inquiry Durham Constabulary was only marginally affected by the new funding formula, but he was concerned about the “size of the pot” of police funding.

He told the inquiry his primary concern was the police force’s “ability to prevent and protect”.

He said Durham, like other forces, had a rise in domestic abuse and historic sexual abuse cases to investigate, adding: “It’s this change in criminality which is causing us great concern.”

Mr Penning, upon announcing plans to change the police funding formula in July, said the current police funding model was "complex, opaque and out of date".

He said police funding had to be put on a long-term, sustainable footing: "Police reform is working. Over the last five years, front-line services have been protected, public confidence in the police has gone up and crime has fallen by more than a quarter, according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales."

But earlier this year, the National Audit Office (NAO) warned the Home Office did not have enough information to “work out how much it can reduce funding without degrading services, or when it may need to support individual forces”.

Author and former North Yorkshire Police officer Mike Pannett said crime nationally had risen by about 40 per cent, if statistics for crimes such as violent crime and child sexual exploitation were added to statistics. He said there had never been a greater demand on policing.

Mr Pannett, said he knew of one northern police force recently that on one evening had nobody to send on critical calls after 9pm.

He said: “Many experts have said what will the consequences be of cuts of such magnitude? You can’t take that risk with public safety. The consequences will be catastrophic.”