It is essential our police have the correct resources to be able deliver the high-quality services that public both expects and deserves. It is equally important that the financial position has long-term sustainability and takes sufficient account of the funding pressures on policing, criminal justice and victims’ services – particularly in smaller counties like Warwickshire. Budgets must also deliver value for money for the taxpayer and ensure that resources are well-used and correctly focused on the priorities outlined by the public through this plan.
I am committed to setting a ‘good and balanced’ annual budget, that delivers the priorities set out in this plan and does not rely on non-core funding to finance routine costs. This may require savings to be identified that can be reinvested, but will also promote a culture of seeking efficiencies and improved productivity from our investments to ensure the force is resilient financially and operationally into the future.
At the same time, I am supportive of the transformational change that Warwickshire Police is undertaking to improve efficiency and productivity to deliver improved services across the county but recognise that this needs adequate funding. I will work with the Chief Constable to achieve this.
There are two main sources of funding for Warwickshire Police; central government grants and a portion of local Council Tax funding, which is known as the police precept. As Commissioner, I have the power to vary the level of the police precept each year and with it being responsible for around 46% of the total budget, any adjustments make a considerable impact in the resources that are available for policing. In making these decisions I will continue to consult the public and weigh the impact of any precept increases on households against the cost pressures to seek a fair outcome with taxation levels as low as possible while protecting local services.
Policing is now more complex than ever, yet the funding formula which underpins how each force receives its share of central grants is decades old and widely acknowledged as unfit for purpose. I will continue to engage with Government and partners to secure a fair funding settlement, underpinned by a revised formula, which provides multi-year settlements, takes account of the contributions local taxpayers make and does not unfairly penalise smaller, more rural forces like Warwickshire.
With the number of households projected to increase by almost 20 percent by 2041 and the creation of major new housing developments, Warwickshire’s population continues to expand. Currently, when these new developments are built, planning regulations require builders to pay a one-off cost, known as an ‘infrastructure levy’ to help finance the local amenities which the new households will require. While contributions towards some amenities such as schools, play areas and transport must be considered automatically, provision for policing services is not and must be negotiated on each occasion. In recent times, we have been fortunate to secure good agreements with developers, I believe planning reform is needed to make consideration of policing services compulsory. I will work with my Commissioner colleagues and the Government to achieve this, with the resultant funding helping to contribute to the costs of police buildings and equipment required.
Securing value for money
I will ensure that value for money from all of our spending is foremost, and will seek to do this by working with the Chief Constable to create a more efficient and productive force. I will:
- challenge the force to allocate funding from the balanced budget to deliver high quality cost effective services that meet the needs of our local communities and address the priorities set out in this
- ensure reserve levels are adequate, and that they are used prudently to manage risk and known costs, and not to fund routine ongoing expenditure, which will help to create a sustainable and resilient Warwickshire Police
- support the transformation programme, by investing in technology and innovation to improve resilience and support for front line officers.
- ensure the Chief Constable manages our current collaboration agreements effectively and reviews opportunities for other partnership working, locally, regionally and nationally, where they can bring benefits to local services and provide increased value for money.
- ensure our estate, vehicles and equipment provided to officers and staff are fit for purpose, acknowledge the importance of environmental sustainability and support the provision of locally based high-quality services across the county.
- hold the Chief Constable to account for the delivery of value for money services and monitor the performance and
- pursue better efficiency and economies of scale wherever possible through opportunities for joint procurement. In my role as a board member of Blue Light Commercial Limited, a national police procurement company, I will look to ensure there are opportunities for the 43 police forces of England and Wales to procure things sustainably and prudently, including in areas such as fleet, utilities, insurance and legal services.
Commissioning and grant funding
I will also seek to ensure my own office also achieves value for money from all of our expenditure, through effective engagement with partners and the commissioning of services which meet the needs of victims and provides improved services.
Each year my office receives around £700,000 from the Ministry of Justice to commission services for victims and witnesses of crime. My office has also been successful in attracting more than £1.1million of additional government funding for the next two years, to support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence and improve service provision. I will continue to consider any bidding opportunities for additional funds, working with partners to ensure we make the most of opportunities to gain additional funding which benefits Warwickshire residents.
I will work with organisations large and small across the public, private, charitable and voluntary sectors, continuing to support their work to meet the objectives set out in this Police and Crime Plan. This will be delivered through an effective and robust annual grants process. My office will also engage with our partners and provide financing to improve community and road safety and to help address rural, hate, cyber and business crime initiatives. Other initiatives to reduce re-offending, support perpetrators of crime to reform their ways and youth diversionary schemes will also be a continued focus for my grant funding.
Further details on the annual grants process and funding availability, which usually commences in the autumn, can be found on the OPCC website.