A Suffolk MP has called on the Government to reimburse the county’s police for the full cost of the search for Corrie McKeague.
Speaking in a Commons debate on police funding last week, Waveney MP Peter Aldous said the hunt for the RAF airman who went missing in September 2016 after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, was an example of the unpredictable events that make police budgeting difficult.
He added: “Quite rightly, Suffolk Constabulary has carried out an extensive search for Corrie.
“The search has cost £2.15 million so far. An application has been made to the Home Office for the repayment of those costs, and I urge the minister to process that application and to reimburse Suffolk Constabulary as soon as practically possible.”
He said Suffolk was ‘a well-run and efficient force’ but added: “Suffolk Constabulary is the force with the highest caseload per officer in the country, at 150 per year, yet it receives one of the lowest funding settlements.
“A disproportionately high percentage of the county’s funding is received through the council tax precept. At 42.6 per cent, its figure is one of the highest in the country.”
He said savings made by Suffolk Police were higher compared with its overall budget than any constabulary in England and Wales.
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “I’m really pleased Peter Aldous has raised this, not just in private with the minister, but publicly in the House.”
Suffolk put in a request for funding to cover part of cost of the Corrie search in December, but after a recent meeting with an inspector from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services it made an application for the whole amount.
But Mr Passmore vowed to continue to campaign on wider issues of police funding.
“We need to review the police funding formula which is biased against rural forces,” he said. “If we were funded the same way as Norfolk, we would have an extra £3.5 million from the Home Office.
“It doesn’t recognise the huge changes in the technology of crime – if you are in cyber crime, you can live anywhere.
“Government needs to move on from the archaic, out-dated funding formula and recognise that there’s a changing environment.”