Budget proposal essential for continued recruitment (31 Jan 2014)

Precept proposals submitted by West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, will cost taxpayers less than a penny extra a day if given the go ahead.

Mr Burns-Williamson has submitted his 2 per cent precept proposals, for the increase in the police element of the council tax, to the Police and Crime Panel.

The money will help pay for the recruitment of 126 police officers and 70 essential police staff roles.

Police council tax in West Yorkshire is currently the third lowest in England and Wales and the increase would mean an average 5 pence a week extra for two thirds of households across West Yorkshire.

Mr Burns-Williamson warned that, even if the budget proposal is agreed and 126 police officers and 70 staff can then be recruited in 2014/15, there will still be an overall reduction in the number of officers (98) and staff because of the need to make significant savings due to the ongoing severe reductions in government funding. The Force has had to find savings of £152 million by 2016/17, a 30 per cent reduction on the original budget.

The proposal would mean those in band D properties paying £138.20 from £135.50, with the 64 per cent of households in West Yorkshire in bands A and B seeing an increase from £90.34 to £92.13 and £105.39 to £107.49 respectively.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "I believe my proposal to the Panel provides a sound footing in helping to safeguard the future of West Yorkshire Police and protect the frontline, keeping our communities safer and feeling safer. 

"I know that people are facing financial challenges and have ruled out going any higher with the precept because I don't think it would be fair in the current economic climate, but it is essential we strive to maintain frontline policing.

"It is a difficult balance and would mean around £2 a year extra for most households.

"My second Listening to You First consultation indicated that 65 per cent of respondents would be willing to pay 2 per cent or more for their police service, I therefore think this proposal is reflective of that in taking views genuinely into account

"I have personally pledged to protect frontline officers by ringfencing funding to pay for PCSOs and am also providing additional funding for partners to tackle key community safety priorities, including a £1m fund to tackle domestic violence and sexual offences across the county. 

"But this investment is essential to ensure that the most pressing needs of West Yorkshire are met, to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the fast diminishing numbers of police officers and police staff."

Mr Burns-Williamson said that Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) had recently praised the progress made in meeting the financial and performance challenges faced by West Yorkshire Police through a Programme of Change agreed with the Chief Constable which is starting to bear fruit.

This is despite the fact West Yorkshire Police receives £3m less than the average allocation for most similar forces from the government funding formula and £5.6m less on average from the precept.

The Police and Crime Panel will consider the PCC's proposals at their meeting on 7 February and the eventual budget must be agreed and publicly issued by 1 March.

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019