Dear Mr Seccombe,
Thank you for presenting your budget proposals to the meeting of the Police and Crime Panel on 6 February 2023, and for addressing the broad range of questions posed by Panel members.
I write to confirm that a majority of the members of the Panel present at the meeting voted to support your proposal of an increase of £14.00 (5.3%) in the local policing precept for an average Band D property (and equivalent percentage increase for other bands) for the 2023/24 financial year.
In doing so, the Panel recognised the difficult choices presented by current economic circumstances, including the effects of rising inflation, escalating energy prices, and pressure on household finances. The Panel also noted the impact of economic pressures on police finances, including the need to ensure fair wage increases for those working for Warwickshire Police to contend with the cost of living.
The Panel noted the proposed improvements to police services supported by the Budget, including increased numbers of police officers and PCSOs, better visibility of neighbourhood policing, and investment in customer service and call handling processes.
Whilst supporting the proposed precept, the Panel recommended that progress in achieving the specific improvements identified in the Budget is closely monitored over the next year. Members emphasised the importance of ensuring that the practical outcomes of spending in 2023/24 are realised, alongside the proposed efficiencies resulting from the Empower Programme and ongoing investment in ICT systems. The Panel will take a keen interest in your challenge of the Chief Constable and is grateful of your offer to provide regular updates throughout the year of the delivery of tangible benefits conferred by the Budget.
The Panel recognised the higher degree of financial risk in the 2023/24 Budget from the need to maintain the police officer numbers to be eligible for the maximum grant from the Government, and the increased reliance on income from the Commercial Vetting Service to support core activity. The Panel looks forward to supporting you in efforts to maximise sustainable levels of income coming into Warwickshire for investment in support of policing across all our communities.
Whilst the Panel recognises that its role is strategic, considering whether to accept or veto your budget proposals requires a level of understanding of the evidence and assumptions used in the preparation of that budget.
There were areas of activity where the Panel felt it would have been helpful to have a more detailed understanding of the actual expenditures incurred during the year to date and how the forecast was prepared as a basis for the following year’s budget.
I look forward to working closely with you and your team to consider how we might better understand the detail behind such issues and enhance the support that the Panel can provide.
Our shared aim is an effective and fiscally sustainable police service for all the residents and communities of Warwickshire, and the Panel looks forward to supporting you in taking this agenda forward over the coming year.
A copy of the minutes of the meeting of 6 February will be forwarded to you shortly.
Councillor Christopher Kettle
Warwickshire Police and Crime Panel Chair