Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe has launched his annual consultation on the policing budget, asking the public for their feedback on how best to meet the challenges facing police in the county.
Local residents and businesses are being asked to consider whether they would support an increase in the policing element of Council Tax in order to safeguard previous investments in extra police officers and fund the much-needed infrastructure improvements which would help them deliver a better service to the public.
Previously, Council Tax increases have helped the Commissioner to fund:
- 150 extra frontline police officer posts, bringing Warwickshire Police up to the 1,000 officer mark, the highest for a decade or more.
- The creation of a new Rural Crime Team, to help tackle incidents that occur in isolated parts of the county and among agricultural businesses
- Enhanced harm protection and Child Sexual Exploitation teams, providing more officers to investigate crimes against the most vulnerable;
- Boosted safer neighbourhood teams, with extra police officers and PCSOs to problem-solve in communities;
- More detectives and police staff investigators to boost CID and more complex criminal investigations.
For the forthcoming financial year, planning for the budget is much more difficult, with the unusual timing of the General Election leaving the Government’s annual funding settlement being announced far later than usual, on an as-yet-unconfirmed date in January. Usually received before Christmas, the funding settlement outlines the amount of money Warwickshire will receive from central government, as well as establishing the rules on how much (or how little) PCC’s can raise for their forces locally through the Council Tax.
With a proposed budget needing to be formalised in early February, this leaves a compressed timetable for seeking public feedback.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “Unfortunately, the timing of the recent General Election has meant that the normal cycle of funding announcements from central government have not been possible. This leaves both myself and the Chief Constable in the difficult position of not knowing how much central funding we will receive, nor what limits might be imposed on what can be raised locally through Council Tax.
“As our budget is made up roughly 50/50 in central government funding and Council Tax, any changes to either can make a significant difference to what we can deliver on the ground.
“This makes it very difficult to consult on a specific budget proposal, so I’m therefore having to take a cautious and prudent approach, based on an assessment of what Warwickshire Police currently needs to make ends meet.
“We know that due to the costs of inflation, nationally agreed salary increases, pension liabilities and the requirement to recruit and train new officers, it will cost millions more next year to provide the same level of service as this year.
“There is also a fundamental need to invest in the infrastructure which supports frontline policing to ensure that officers can work as efficiently as possible, with the right technology to do their job as safely and effectively as possible.
“As we transition out of our alliance with West Mercia Police, I also need to make sure that Warwickshire Police’s finances remain sustainable into the future and that we protect the investments during my term of office which have brought Warwickshire Police’s operational strength back up to 1,000 officers.
“I do appreciate how stretched many people’s finances have been, so I need to consider very carefully what the public has to say on any Council Tax increases and balance that against what the force needs to keep people safe. I do know from previous consultations that the public is very supportive of ensuring we have the best police service possible, so I want to hear feedback quickly on what is an acceptable balance on the Council Tax before I propose a finalised budget in February.”
The Warwickshire public are being asked whether they would prefer:-
- An increase of 4.99% to meet inflation-related cost pressures, nationally agreed salary increases, pension liabilities and the requirement to recruit and train new officers, meaning no further investments and requiring the force to make savings in order to balance the books.
- An increase above 4.99% to safeguard officer posts and enable investment in new technology and infrastructure, ensuring officers and staff are best equipped to keep the public safe in the most efficient and effective way.
- No increase in the policing element of Council Tax (the precept) which would lead to more significant savings having to be made, resulting in policing services being reduced.
An increase of 4.99% would be equivalent to an extra 22 pence per week on an average Band D property.
Have your say
People can have their say by taking the online survey at www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk or by getting in contact with the Warwickshire PCC’s office in the following ways:
By Post: Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire, 3 Northgate Street, Warwick CV34 4SP
By Email: email@example.com
Hard copies of the full consultation document are also available on request from the office, and can also be printed from the OPCC website.
The survey will close at 4pm on Friday 17 January, 2020.