Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Chris Nelson is seeking the views of the public on the rising cost of policing in Gloucestershire.
The PCC is in discussion with the Chief Constable, together with both his and the Constabulary’s chief finance officers, preparing a budget to pay for policing over the next 12 months.
In contrast with other areas of the country, the cost of policing in Gloucestershire is now split almost equally, between a grant from Central Government and funding from local tax- payers. The Government settlement, announced last month, has to meet pay rises, inflation and additional cost increases.
For Mr. Nelson to begin to implement some of the manifesto proposals on which he was elected, it is estimated the police precept could go up by £10 – the equivalent of less than 20 pence per week for a band D property.
He said, “Having won people’s votes on the promise of recruiting more police officers, driving down anti-social behaviour and making it easier to contact the police, I am determined to repay that faith.
“The Government’s uplift programme has helped me make a start and enabled the Constabulary to bring in a number of new officers already. As part of this year’s central grant settlement, I am also allowed to increase the part of the council tax that pays for policing by up to £10 without a referendum.
“But my manifesto was based on what the public told me they wanted so it’s important to get their views now.
“I remain committed to my manifesto promises and I am working with the Chief Constable to ensure that a £10 increase meets his most immediate needs such as investigating crimes against the most vulnerable in society, by for example increasing the numbers working in Child Abuse Investigation Teams.
“A £10 rise would also ensure that we can start to increase the numbers of people in the Force Control Room who take 999 and 101 phone calls from the public.
“In building the budget I have also asked the Chief to make savings in other non-pay areas to help towards ensuring that every penny can be targeted towards these improvements.
“We are working together to make sure that every part of the existing budget is as tightly squeezed as it can be to make as much space as possible for this additional investment.
“Increasing the precept by more than £10 would enable me to meet those manifesto commitments more quickly. However, I have to take into account the need to avoid a costly referendum, the financial position of our residents and their ability to pay, which may mean it takes longer to achieve the recruitment numbers I aspire to”.
The public can offer their thoughts on the policing budget by sending an email PCC@gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk
Once the PCC has set his budget, the police and crime panel members will be asked to support it at their next meeting in February. Under existing legislation, they are only allowed to reject it once.