Durham's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Joy Allen has hit back at comments made by Home Secretary James Cleverly which suggested that the PCC was at fault for the lack of police officers on the streets of the region.

During his visit last week to Durham Constabulary’s training centre in Meadowfield Industrial Estate in County Durham, Mr Cleverly said that there is ‘money on the table’ for PCCs to invest in more officers and questioned why this hadn’t happened in Durham.

During his visit last week, Mr Cleverly said: "There is money on the table for police and crime commissioners for extra officers. In Essex, there has been significant investment in police officers - and I would question the Durham Police and Crime Commission and believe she should have numerous questions asked of her and the lack of officers.

The Northern Echo: Durham's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Joy AllenDurham's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Joy Allen (Image: JOY ALLEN)

"PCCs across the country - they have been able to turn money into officers on the streets. The money was there if she has failed to do so - the people of the Durham force area can legitimately ask her some searching questions."

However, this stinging criticism of Durham's PCC has seen a strong response - with PCC Allen saying that she will continue to battle for more officers on the streets of County Durham.

She said: “Well, my table is bare.  Let me be very clear, I have invested every penny possible into putting more officers on our streets because this is what every single resident wants. What I cannot do is magic up the funding we need to put us back to where we were 10 years ago, before the austerity cuts.  This inconvenient fact appears to have been overlooked.

The Northern Echo: Home Secretary James CleverlyHome Secretary James Cleverly (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

“Comparing Durham to Essex, which was the example given, is akin to comparing apples and pears.  It merely highlights the inequitable police funding formula.  However, it is fair to say that Essex, where the Home Secretary has his constituency, comes off significantly better.   

“I’ve written to the government before, and I will continue to drive home the point until somebody listens. One-third of the forces in England and Wales (15) have lost officers compared to 2010, despite the 20,000-officer uplift programme. These are mostly areas with high deprivation such as Cleveland and Durham.  The majority also have above average crime rates per officer."

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PCC Allen added: “The Uplift programme offered a golden opportunity to ‘level us up’ but it was completely missed. I should also point out that the funding didn’t cover everything needed to recruit and sustain these new officers.

“Due to the outdated prescriptive formula for funding, unchanged by successive governments, wealthy forces get wealthier while others miss out.

“But I will not give up. As I enter my second term as PCC, I will not be afraid to keep on highlighting these points to get the resources our county warrants.”