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Typically just over half of Dorset Police’s total budget comes from central Government, with the majority of the remainder raised through council tax contributions, known as the policing precept. Each year, it is my responsibility as your Police & Crime Commissioner to take a decision on whether to raise or freeze the policing precept. It is always a complex decision, but never has it come at such a pivotal time for policing.     

For the first time, policing’s independent watchdog has delivered a stark warning about the pressure police are under. Last year, Dorset Police saw an increase in demand, a reduction in funding and experienced the associated detrimental impact on officer and staff welfare. Here are the facts:

Police funding
  • Dorset Police has had its central Government funding cut by more than £16m in real terms over the last seven years.
  • Dorset Police’s budget has had to absorb growing inflation along with the cost of Government awarding a police pay rise, without providing any additional funding.
  • Dorset Police has made efficiency savings of more than £37m since 2010/11.
  • The Force is reaching the limits of reasonable savings that can be made without impacting on the quality of service.
Police demand
  • In 2016/17, Dorset saw an 8% increase in reported crime.
  • Violence against the person as an overall category saw a rise of 21%.
  • Dorset Police has experienced a 7% increase in 999 calls.
  • Police are dealing with more complex crimes, for example reports of serious sexual offences have more than doubled since 2013/14.
  • Forces elsewhere are already considering no longer investigating minor offences.
Despite these challenges, on 19 December the Policing Minister announced a flat cash settlement for 2018/19, meaning that PCCs face a central Government funding reduction in real terms.

To plug this gap, PCCs will be able to raise the precept by £12.00 per year, based on the average Band D household, in 2018/19. This would provide Dorset Police with around £3.4m in additional income which will help to ensure that some planned initiatives including police officer recruitment can at least continue for another year. The Government has assumed PCCs will implement the rise in their police funding calculations.

This will place an additional burden on the tax payer, while wages have remained static and living costs continue to rise. I understand the financial challenges that families in Dorset are facing and this makes a decision on the policing precept yet more difficult.

I am convinced that this money is needed to support policing in Dorset but it is vital I gather the views of residents, so thank you for taking the time to complete this survey.

Martyn Underhill
Police & Crime Commissioner

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