PCC budget provides frontline focus
1 February 2019
West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson has today (01/02) set the Police budget for 2019/20, outlining his continued commitment to frontline policing.
It will see an additional 264 officers and specialist staff invested into protecting local communities, with Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) numbers maintained over the next 12 months.
The Commissioner presented the details to members of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel who agreed with the proposal.
It increases the police element of council tax (called the precept) by £24 on a Band D property, although it will still remain the 3rd lowest police precept in England and Wales.
Approximately 61% of households in West Yorkshire are, however, in Bands A and B, which means around 31p extra per week for Band 'A' and 36p per week for Band 'B'.
|Council Tax Band||Current cost per year £||2019/20 Cost £||Annual increase £||Per week increase £|
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson said:
"In the context of almost ten years of sustained cuts to policing, preparing this latest budget has been one of the most challenging in terms of priorities to make a real difference to policing and the public.
"I have been placed in an almost untenable situation, with clear expectations from Government that Police and Crime Commissioners should raise their precept levels to the maximum amount allowed under new flexibilities announced in December, but welcome the panel's unanimous decision to supporting proposals in difficult circumstances.
"I have also had to take into account potential significant shortfalls resulting from the Police Funding Formula allocation, which has yet to be resolved and determines how funding is distributed nationally.
"Similarly, there remains a looming threat from unexpected employer Police pension contributions (approximately £12m per year), with no further assurances from Government about how longer term finances will be met.
"Choosing to raise the precept has not been an easy decision, but has been a necessary one in order to keep people safe and feeling safe in West Yorkshire and to help rebuild frontline policing resources, which the public broadly do support.
"72% of respondents to my recent budget consultation survey said that they would be prepared to increase their contribution to support my proposal.
"Knowing that the public recognise and understand the continued need for a strong frontline capability has therefore allowed me to shape the budget in a way that delivers where it matters.
"From March 2020, there will be a net increase of 264 officers and specialist staff with PCSO numbers maintained at 603. It will bring increased resources to District Policing and Neighbourhood Policing, as well as boosting cyber-crime specialists and digital investigations.
"We all know the significance of safeguarding vulnerable people and I have put in place the finances to match. Likewise, the budget brings more support to tackling organised crime, as well as the criminal justice elements of policing in assisting victims and key partners.
"A specific focus of the budget is around ensuring there is the right support mechanisms in place to deliver the best possible standards of service, in the face of growing demands and bolstering the frontline capability.
"Aside of these key priorities, I have also set aside additional funding to better support partnership working, providing resources for areas such as domestic abuse and mental health, working with each of the Community Safety Partnerships in the five districts.
"Clearly, Government austerity measures extend beyond Policing and I recognise the impact that it is also having upon local authorities, not to mention the many other organisations that help to deliver against my Police and Crime Plan.
"I have also earmarked money for community safety projects with our Community Safety Partnership (CSP) colleagues, to cover areas such as preventing anti-social behaviour, road safety and domestic abuse.
"Although it is with some reluctance that I have had to call upon local taxpayers to achieve it, the budget I have set caters for the issues of greatest threat to our communities and puts us in a place of more stability, sustainability and affordability for the future against a backdrop of Government funding reductions, which accounts for over 70% of our overall budget, remaining flat after years of cuts.
"I will of course continue to lobby and speak directly with the Home Secretary about a better deal for Policing in West Yorkshire as I have done every year."
Chair of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, Cllr Alison Lowe said:
"The Panel today reluctantly agreed the PCC's proposal to increase the police precept by £24 on a band D property.
"The Panel remain committed to growing police numbers across West Yorkshire but we are concerned that this growth is at the expense of local tax payers, rather than central government grant. We will be writing to the Police Minister to outline our concerns directly."
West Yorkshire Police, Temporary Chief Constable John Robins added:
"We are policing in an extremely challenging and complex environment with increasing demands for our services, particularly from vulnerable people in difficult situations.
"Our frontline officers and staff continue to be under considerable pressure to meet the competing demands and expectations of their role.
"I therefore welcome this increase in our policing budget throughout 2019 to 2020 to enable us to increase officer and staff numbers at the frontline of policing.
"This will help us ensure we have the resources available at all times of the day and night, to efficiently and effectively combat serious and organised crime, prevent violent crime and combat anti-social behaviour.
"West Yorkshire Police remain absolutely committed to keeping people safe and feeling safe with the resources available to us, this budget helps us do that."
Full reports outlining the Panel's decision and recommendations is available on the Police and Crime Panel's website www.westyorkshire-pcp.gov.uk.