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Researcher: Professor Iain McLean

with Anika Ludwig (Research Officer, Nuffield College) and Mike Norton (PhD candidate)

Funder: Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)

The forty-three Policing areas in England and Wales together spend over £11 billion a year.  How do they decide to spend it?  This project looks at resource allocation processes of the UK’s territorial police forces. Does the presence of a Police and Crime Commissioner make a difference to the ways police funds are spent? Is good practice in resource allocation effectively shared across the profession?

The ways budget decisions are made may reflect regional priorities, differences in size, shape and organisational structure of police forces, or the presence or lack of systematic financial decision-making. Little is known about the processes by which resources are allocated within the police and generalised public expenditure procedures aren’t specific enough to allow us to understand financial decision-making within police forces.

This research project includes interviews with Police and Crime Commissioners, Chief Finance Officers and other senior stakeholders.  Frank and detailed discussions allow examination of the basis for financial decision-making and the ways resource allocation does or doesn’t reflect policing priorities. Whilst the media often talk about “bobbies on the beat” as a priority, professionals within police forces almost never do.

The findings from this research will help public finance and accountancy bodies such as CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) provide guidance for resource allocation. The journal articles, policy papers and events arising from this research will support the sharing of good practice across the profession and in government. The research will also inform the public spending review in 2017.

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