Would you pay out more Council Tax to see more police officers patrolling the streets?
This is the question being put to residents by Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa, who has launched a new survey to gauge support for his plans to bolster the number of neighbourhood police officers across the county.
With the force’s budget ‘crippled’ by underfunding from central government, the Commissioner is ‘reluctantly’ proposing to increase the amount of council tax paid by residents towards policing by a further £12 ( or 23p per week) in 2019-20 to fund extra police officers in Derbyshire communities.
The increase, which will raise £4.5m of additional funding, will fund the recruitment of additional officers, PCSOs and police staff investigators across the county’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams while enabling the Commissioner to draw on reserves to fund improvements to police stations and invest in new equipment and technology.
It follows last year’s budget which saw the deployment of 25 extra officers and additional resources to investigate the growing risks of child abuse, child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, sexual violence, domestic extremism and organised crime.
Mr Dhinsa said: “Nobody wishes to burden local people with a policing bill that in reality should be met by Her Majesty’s Government but in the absence of any increase in central funding - despite the fervent protestations of Chief Officers and PCCs - we have no other choice.
“Policing today is under huge pressure. Demand and risk are spiralling and yet still, after two very credible reports, we find ourselves in the same situation with no extra financial help to rejuvenate our depleted frontline.
“It is my absolute duty to protect our local communities from harm but to do that I have no alternative but to ask for local taxpayer support.
“This critical income, which will be raised via a small increase in the amount you pay towards policing, will help me strengthen our neighbourhood policing teams, increase visibility in our communities and increase the headcount of officers able to respond to your problems.
“However, you must have a say in my decision which is why I am launching this public consultation to elicit your views. Please do take the time to share your views.
Earlier this month, the Public Accounts Committee published a report into the Financial Sustainability of Police Forces which provided further confirmation that all police forces are underfunded.
Before this, the National Audit Office said the current process for distributing funding is in fact ’ineffective and detached’ from the changing nature of modern policing.
The Government’s Police Grant has reduced by 30 per cent since 2010/11.
Locally, police numbers have fallen by more than 400 officers along with 400 fewer civilian staff to support them while funding has reduced, when taking inflation into account, by the equivalent of £40m.
The Chief Constable has said he needs at least 400 officers and staff reinstated to provide a resilient response to fighting crime and protecting Derbyshire’s communities.
This year policing in Derbyshire will cost £169.17m. Each year the Government limits the amount in which the Commissioner can raise council tax which is known as the cap.
For the last few years, the cap was set at 2 per cent but this year the Government raised the cap to a maximum of £12 on a band D property, which raised an additional £4.4m.
The Government has said that once again it will increase the cap so that council taxpayers can pay more towards the cost of policing. For a Band D property this would be another increase of £12.
To complete the survey visit: https://www.derbyshire-pcc.gov.uk/Precept2019-20