The past two years of fighting COVID-19 has placed us under immense pressure as individuals, families, communities and as a society. Along with other public services, policing has been at the forefront of ensuring our communities are safe during this testing time.
One of my responsibilities as your Commissioner is to set the Constabulary’s budget and to consult you on my proposal for the police precept – The part of your council tax that funds policing in our county.
Policing has endured a difficult financial position in recent years, but the tide is turning.
Increased funding from government has meant that since taking office in May last year I have been able to commit to taking Cheshire’s Police Officer numbers to the highest level in modern times – 2,345. Call response times have also been improved by putting more staff in the Force Control Centre (FCC) to take your call in your moment of need.
During this time I have also brought in nearly £4 million in extra funding for initiatives to prevent and tackle crime across the county, through bids made by my office.
But I know there is always more to do.
In my Autumn Survey last year - the largest consultation exercise ever carried out by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire - I outlined some options for this year’s police budget, so you could tell me what resources you feel are needed to tackle the issues that matter to you like speeding and anti-social behaviour (ASB).
I was up front with people – I said a small rise would be necessary in order to keep the police at a standstill – And over 85% of people who expressed a view said they were happy to pay more above this in order for the Constabulary to have more resources. The most popular option by some way was an increase in the police precept of 20p per week above standstill - equivalent to £1.04 per month in total.
This budget will increase visible policing by putting 120 more officers on our streets. It will also support 63 more members of staff in frontline departments such the FCC to improve call handling times, as well as more road safety initiatives, and schemes to tackle ASB.
To support this, the proposal I am putting to you is for an increase in the police precept of approximately 83p per month for the average Band D property.
I am acutely aware of the diversity of the views people expressed, and the worries that people may have about the cost of living. I am also conscious that asking for support to raise the precept even further would require me to hold a referendum, which I do not believe would be a valuable use of people’s hard-earned money.
I believe this budget will deliver on your priorities for our police service and your community. Please take a minute or two to let me know your views.
Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire