Bristol drugs projects concerned over police commissioner funding
A Bristol group which supports people fighting drug addiction has raised concerns over changes to their funding - which are linked to the soon-to-be-elected police commissioner.
Once a police commissioner has been elected for the Avon and Somerset force area, funding will change for projects such as the Bristol Drugs Project as the police commissioner gets a Community Safety Fund to spend on them.
Maggie Telfer, chief executive of the project, is concerned that it and others in the city could stand to lose ring-fenced funding.
She said she was worried that the money would not have to be spent in Bristol, or even on drugs projects.
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Speaking to ThisisBristol this morning, she said: "We are one of a number of organisations that receive funding which currently is spent on drug treatment, which is going over to the new police commissioner and doesn't have to be spent in Bristol or on drug treatment.
"We have been raising our concerns about this for some time. But with the elections coming up on November 15 there has been a lot of focus on the mayoral election but lots of people don't know about the police commissioner. They don't know that they will have power, money and influence on people's lives. We want to encourage people to think about it and get engaged.
"I'm not just concerned for us - it is about the possibility that funding for people with drug problems in the city will disappear out of Bristol and into other activities.
"We are talking about £1.2 million. £800,000 of that comes out of the Drugs Intervention Programme from the Home Office funding stream and the remainder is money coming from Community Safety Funding.
"We are recognising that we are in a very challenging fiscal environment and the police commissioner will be likely to be having to make savings. They will have a matter of weeks to set their budget and there will be lots of demands on their money."
Matthew Symonds, who works with Voscur which supports Bristol's voluntary and community sector, said that he welcomed the new police commissioner role.
But he is concerned that some projects may suffer in favour of other, more visible forms of policing.
Mr Symonds said: "It could take money away from some of the things people don't see but do take place."
The funding fears seem to have been dismissed by the government.
Policing minister Damian Green said: "The PCC will have to produce a policing plan and at the heart of his plan will be to reduce crime.
"If a drugs project reduces crime it would have nothing to fear as they would be rowing in the same direction."