West Yorkshire’s PCC sets budget to protect frontline policing (8 Feb 2017)

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson has set a budget to protect frontline policing in West Yorkshire.

The PCC's budget for 2017/18 was formally agreed at West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Panel on Friday (03/02).

The new budget allows for key recruitment of 500 police officers and protection of Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) numbers at over 550.

The recruitment will be funded by a slight increase, 3.43%, in the police element of Council Tax which equates to around an extra £4 a year, or less than 8 pence a week for most households in West Yorkshire.

The full Council Tax amount includes contributions to the Council, Police and Fire Authorities and in some areas Parish Councils. The Police element of Council Tax makes up roughly 10% of the total amount levied at the local level with West Yorkshire still having the third lowest Police Council Tax in England and Wales.

Before finalising the budget, the Police and Crime Commissioner launched a Community Conversation consultation with the communities in West Yorkshire on whether they would support an increase as long as it paid for more frontline policing to tackle growing and complex demands around cyber crime, missing persons enquires and vulnerable victims.

The consultation received 2076 responses with 77% stating that they would support an increase of up to a cash limit of £5 (Band D) afforded to the lowest precept areas.

As well as the Council Tax increase, other money for recruitment will be funded through ongoing efficiencies made from internal transformation projects and the West Yorkshire Police Programme of Change reviews.

A recent report on efficiency by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) also noted that West Yorkshire Police have sound financial plans in place and were rated as 'Good'.

Mark Burns-Williamson said: "I am very pleased to announce, with the help of our communities and the support of the Panel, I have been able to set a budget that allows further open recruitment of police officers and protection of Police Community Support Officer numbers in continuing to strengthen the policing and neighbourhood presence in particular.

"I'd like to thank the public of West Yorkshire who overwhelmingly supported this increase in the police element of Council Tax. West Yorkshire is still an area with one of the lowest levels of Council Tax in the country, however, the decision to raise it wasn't taken lightly and I am very aware of the financial pressures facing our communities. The fact is that government are transferring more of the burden on to local taxpayers for policing and local authority spending.

"It's no secret that we have been hit by extensive government budget cuts of over £140m since 2010 which has resulted in the loss of 2000 police officers and staff but we are now starting to rebuild that number. I was able to set a budget last year to allow hundreds of police officers to be recruited and we are continuing that crucial work to increase capacity on our streets and specialist policing areas.

"We continue to face challenging financial pressures and levels of future government funding are far from certain with a review of the police funding formula happening this year. Set against this backdrop we are seeing a rise in complex and demanding cases such as cyber crime, child sexual exploitation and missing people. I will be working closely with the Chief Constable, MPs and others to ensure the review of the police funding formula is fair and transparent in recognising where the policing demands need to be met in West Yorkshire.

"However I pledged to protect frontline policing and I will continue to do so with the help of our partners and our communities. It's crucial that West Yorkshire Police continue to have the resources to be able to provide the service our communities rightly expect and deserve to keep them safe and feeling safe.

"Providing resources is not just about the number of officers, I have also invested money into equipping frontline policing staff with cutting edge mobile devices to allow them to spend more time where you want them, out in our communities. Investment has also been made into new contact methods, such as online crime reporting and live chat facilities, to accommodate the changing way our communities want to communicate with West Yorkshire Police as well as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and body worn video technology systems to improve outcomes for both the police and public."

West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, Dee Collins said: "The value of frontline policing continues to be recognised across our local communities and it is critical that we use our resources in the most efficient and effective way possible.

"This latest budget agreement by the Police and Crime Commissioner will allow us to build upon current capabilities and further bolster our numbers.

"Coupled with our recent 'Positive Action' recruitment work, we are developing a workforce which is ever more representative of the diversity that exists across our county.

"It will help us to drive our ambitions around Neighbourhood Policing, strengthening our abilities to solve local problems at the earliest opportunity, keeping the most vulnerable safe and feeling safe.

"Similarly, it will allow us to reinforce the important links with our partners, as we look to deliver a service which is increasingly collaborative in its approach."

A paper outlining the plans for the budget was submitted to the Police and Crime Panel ahead of the meeting on 3 February, to read it visit http://www.westyorkshire-pcp.gov.uk/meetings/2017/friday-3rd-february.

The police element of Council Tax for 2017/18:

Council Tax Band Total Cost per year £ Increase per annum £ Increase in pence per week
A 100.64 3.33 6.4
B 117.41 3.89 7.5
C 134.18 4.44 8.5
D 150.95 5.00 9.6
E 184.49 6.11 11.8
F 218.03 7.22 13.9
G 251.58 8.33 16
H 301.90 10.00 19.2

Results from the Community Conversation survey

Would you be prepared to pay the proposed increase on the police element of your council tax? (Only responses where the respondent says they pay council tax and live in West Yorkshire have been included)

Response West Yorkshire Bradford Calderdale Kirklees Leeds Wakefield
Yes 77.2% 76.7% 80.0% 76.3% 79.0% 74.2%
No 17.3% 17.0% 15.0% 20.1% 16.2% 19.0%
Don't know 5.5% 6.3% 5.0% 3.6% 4.8% 6.9%
Base: 2,076 734 180 274 582 306
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