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Pandemic could cost West Midlands Police more than £10 million

Crime | Published:

West Midlands Police could be hit with a total bill of more than £10 million for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

And the force may be left with no option but to wipe out its reserves unless it can recoup a chunk of expenditure from the Government.

The warning came as officials urged people to stick to the Government’s ‘rule of six’ to protect health and reduce the strain on police resources.

A meeting of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s strategic board was told the net cost of Covid-19 was currently about £10.5m, with the force having spent more than £4 million on personal protective equipment (PPE), laptops and mobile phones and other technology for staff.

It has also lost out on a fortune in revenue from cancelled football matches and other major events, as well as airport closures, while extra costs have been incurred due to the necessity of holding virtual remand hearings.

Meanwhile overtime and temporary staffing costs have rocketed since the start of the lockdown in March.

WMP’s chief finance officer, Mark Kenyon, said additional costs were currently projected to be about £4.5m.

However, he said the figure would more than double in a “worst case scenario” where the Government failed to stick to its pledge to repay some of the expenditure.

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If no extra funding was received, the force could be forced to dip into the £9m balance in its reserves account, he added.

“What we would have to do in the first place is look at ways how we can save money in the short term,” Mr Kenyon said.

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“If we weren’t able to do that then we would have to use reserves to make sure we have a balanced position at the end of the year.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said: “We are expecting costs of about £10 million relating to Covid.

“Unless the Home Office reimburse us that is going to have an impact on our budget.

“I am concerned that with cases starting to rise again, this could mean further pressures on us financially, when we have already faced a decade of severe cuts to policing.”

WMP is understood to be one of a number of forces awaiting payment for a huge PPE order that was placed in May.

The force’s expenditure on the order is believed to be about £4m.

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