Police Budget Agreed for the Next Year Outlining PCC's Ongoing Commitment to Frontline Policing and Investment
Friday 7 February, 2020
West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson has today (07/02) set the Police budget for 2020/21, outlining his continued commitment to ongoing investment and frontline policing.
The PCC made a recommendation to the Police and Crime Panel of his intention to increase the ‘police precept’ - the part of the council tax that helps to fund policing locally which accounts for about 30% of the total West Yorkshire Police budget.
He has proposed a small increase of 4.99 per cent, which equates to no more than £7.26 a year for most households in West Yorkshire to ensure ongoing resources for more police officers and to help protect the numbers of Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs) visible in communities and Neighbourhood Policing Teams throughout West Yorkshire.
This will allow PCSO numbers to be broadly maintained at 603 despite reductions in partner funding in recent years, and importantly an overall additional 311 Police Officer recruits and various Police Staff recruitment in excess of 100. This means key areas of investment can be supported, such as specialist investigators using new digital and forensic techniques to improve criminal justice outcomes for victims and witnesses.
The Commissioner presented the details to members of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, who agreed with the proposal.
Mr Burns-Williamson, (PCC), said: “I want to continue to increase frontline visible policing as much as possible, putting more police officers in our neighbourhoods and to make sure communities are safe and feel safe, which I know is a priority for the many people I engage and speak with.
“I have previously said that would mean a police precept increase because the Government’s announcements to ‘strengthen our police service and help tackle unacceptable levels of crime’ in reality means some of that money has to be raised locally to cover all the staff and inflation costs not fully covered in the police settlement announced last month (Jan) in Parliament.
“Despite the uplift funding for 2020/21, a serious concern remains about the longer term pressures given the very significant reduction in the size of West Yorkshire Police’s number of officers and staff during austerity and the increasing demand and complexity of policing activity. Despite the proposed recruitment of an additional 311 police officers we will still be below officer numbers from 2010 by around 500 or so. Added to this the length of time it will take for new officers to fully emerge through the introduction of the new Police Education Qualification Framework (PEQF), which I don’t think has yet been quite fully understood or realised by Government.
“I am acutely aware of the potential financial impact on individuals within the community, but have also taken note of the wider public views with 79% of respondents in my recent survey supporting the level of increase proposed which is encouraging.
“Maintaining and rebuilding core operational resilience and presence is imperative in order to keep the communities of West Yorkshire safe and feeling safe. I am pleased this view is supported by the majority of those who completed my recent survey in helping me to enable the Chief Constable and West Yorkshire Police to have more resources.
“Continuing the recruitment of police officers and specialist staff, protecting the current number of PCSOs to support the frontline as far as possible are priorities for me as PCC, but they require a sustainable source of funding and I am really pleased the Police and Crime Panel have recognised this and supported my proposals for the 2020/21 police precept.”
Chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said: “It has been a hard decision for the members on the Police and Crime Panel as we recognise that this increase is an additional burden to Council Tax payers of West Yorkshire; however this has to be balanced with the need to keep the public safe at a time of increasing demand on police services and to ensure that there is a sustainable source of funding to increase the base budget for policing going forward. I am pleased that the Panel has chosen to support the PCC to help continue to rebuild police officer numbers in West Yorkshire and target interventions to ensure that crime in the area continues to reduce.
“The Panel has made it clear to the Commissioner that just increasing the numbers of police officers alone is not the answer to reducing crime and keeping people safe in West Yorkshire. The Panel will scrutinise and challenge the Commissioner for the spending agreed today and we will be reporting to residents of West Yorkshire through our meetings and our website to give assurances about value for money. The Police and Crime Panel are particularly keen to ensure that the Commissioner meets his recruitment targets and delivers on his commitments to improve outcomes, whilst ensuring value for money for the people of West Yorkshire.”
Chief Constable John Robins QPM welcomed the increase, saying, “This will help us to continue the process of rebuilding officer and staff numbers. Although it will be three years before the full operational benefit of these extra officers is felt, it is important to make a start now.
“Officer numbers are directly linked to our ability to make the public safe and feel safe. The benefit of previous years’ precept rises, to fund police officer recruitment, is now being felt with decreases in latest crime figures.
“However, as there has been no direct central funding for the recent pay award or for any inflationary costs this year, we continue to face wider financial challenges as we continue to focus on providing the best possible service to the public of West Yorkshire.”
A full report outlining the Panel’s decision and recommendations will be submitted to the Commissioner by February 8th and published on the Police and Crime Panel’s website (www.westyorkshire-pcp.gov.uk)