POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Darryl Preston is today (Thursday, 6th January) asking people to give their views on his proposed increase to the policing part of council tax.
As Police and Crime Commissioner, it’s my job to set the budget for the Constabulary – part of that is about determining how much people contribute through their council tax.
The public’s views are important to me, therefore in order to enable people living and working in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to tell me what matters to them when it comes to policing and crime, I am launching an online survey.
I appreciate that 2021 has been an exceptionally challenging year for all of us. Throughout the last twelve months, our police officers, volunteers and staff have worked tirelessly alongside our other emergency service workers to help keep people safe, whilst responding to the usual calls for service.
I recently launched my Police and Crime Plan for the county which responded to feedback from the public and sets policing objectives for the next three years. My Plan includes five key priorities including providing a more accessible Constabulary that responds to local issues such as rural and business crime, anti-social behaviour, drug related crimes and road safety.
Thanks to the contribution people made to policing through their council tax last year, (2021-22, £15 per year based on a Band D property), the Chief Constable has been able to invest in the following:
- An additional 10 call handlers to help improve the 999 and 101 service;
- A new 24/7 Digital and Social Media Contact Desk to respond to increased online communication from the public, providing quick oversight of comments written on all Force social media posts, looking for reports of crime, intelligence and safeguarding issues;
- Early Intervention Domestic Abuse Desks with dedicated staff who provide safeguarding advice to officers at the scene of domestic incidents;
- A new Inclusion Officer who is helping to build support and enhance trust in the force across all communities;
- Digital Media Investigators within a newly created Cyber Crime Team to support frontline investigators and provide more support for victims;
- Four Cyber and On-Line Fraud Prevention Officers to help reduce cybercrime and online fraud through awareness-raising and other initiatives.
For the 2022/23 financial year, as with others, it is important to clarify that police funding comes from two main sources: 56% from central government (excluding specific grants) and the remainder from the policing part of council tax. Whilst I recognise that household costs are rising across the board, it is unfortunately no different for policing. Inflation and national insurance increases mean that there are considerable pressures on the Constabulary budget, despite savings of £5.1 million having been achieved in 2021/22.
As we plan the police budget for 2022/23, it is vital that we are able to meet rising costs and ensure the growth in new officers can be sustained so that the Constabulary’s commitment to supporting our communities, which includes local policing, is maintained.
In line with government guidance, I am therefore asking for people’s views on my proposed increase of £10 per year (83p per month based on a Band D property). This, together with an increase of £4.8m from government (excluding specific grants), would enable the Chief Constable to further maintain, invest and support in 3 core areas:
National Uplift Programme (Recruitment of 20,000 additional officers)
- Recruitment and training of an additional 82 officers for 2022/23 which is on top of the Constabulary’s anticipated recruitment target to maintain workforce numbers. This brings the total number of officers in the county to 1,714 by March 2023. I must stress though that these officers and those that have recently joined need considerable support, supervision and training for them to be able to add real value to our communities.
- Support for our police officers – as a result of the overall increase in officers, investment is needed to support and sustain the entire workforce. This includes areas such as HR, ICT, Professional Standards and incorporates both an investment in police officer and police staff roles. Specifically, support within Occupational Health, the Recruitment Team, Operational Training, Resource Management, Call Taking and importantly ensuring an inclusive approach from a workforce that is representative of the communities it serves.
- Digital Investigative Support – to provide expert digital evidence and support to robustly enforce against those who blight our communities through county lines, serious and organised crime, drug supply and those who exploit the online space to cause serious harm – something I know people want to see.
- Additional cyber investigators – the growing prevalence of cybercrime causes untold financial and emotional harm to businesses and individuals alike. This investment will enhance our response to the threat through specialist investigators.
- Young Person Early Intervention Officers – supporting the Constabulary’s response to vulnerability, the continuation of this innovative pilot provides early intervention to young people following their initial missing from home episodes, engaging with those who are most vulnerable to exploitation, providing personalised interventions and preventative measures to protect them from further future harm and causing harm to others.
- Violence against Women and Girls – increased investment in resources, such as a vulnerability analyst to identify and support the Constabulary to tackle those who perpetrate violence in our communities – a national priority for all forces as well as here. We want to ensure people feel safe on our streets.
- Digital Innovation – following the Government’s announcement that funding is being provided to increase productivity using enhanced technology and investigative tools, we will further invest in Digital Innovation to enable such opportunities to be identified and realised.
Maintaining Business as Usual
- Increased business costs cannot be ignored – for example, projected pay costs (pay award/increments and national insurance), utility costs and fuel expenditure, building maintenance and capital investment, ICT systems costs, inflation and uncertainty about pensions. In addition, the Constabulary’s contributions to national programmes and on-going collaborations need to be met.
I would be grateful if you could take a few moments to complete the survey which you will find on my website: The Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire | Consultations & Surveys (cambridgeshire-pcc.gov.uk)
Your views will help inform my final decision on how much to raise the policing part of the council tax.
The survey runs from 0:00 on 6thJanuary until 17:00 on 20th January 2022.