At a public meeting of the Policing Board on September 18, the Fair Rates Campaign questioned the Chief Constable, the board and Alex Maskey MLA, chairman of the board's community engagement committee, as to the finance source of the yearly £1bn policing and justice bill, once devolution takes place.
The campaign pointed out that provision for a policing precept already exists in the Rates (Amendment) (NI) Order 2006 which links the revenue raised through the regional rate and the contribution that householders make towards the provision of policing and justice.
We were amazed to learn that neither the Policing Board nor the ratepayers were consulted on the funding source for devolved policing and justice. The Fair Rates Campaign insists that the devolution of policing and justice be put on hold until the issue of ‘who is going to pay for it’ has been widely consulted upon and agreed.
A fundamental question must also be answered: who will shoulder the financial burden for devolved policing and justice, which equates to £1,400 per household, per annum?
No wonder that Secretary of State Shaun Woodward and Prime Minister Gordon Brown are so keen to have policing and justice devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Chairman of the Northern |Ireland Fair Rates Campaign