Residents in Derbyshire are being urged by Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles to let him know their views on his intention to increase the council tax for policing by a small amount.
The Commissioner is proposing an increase of £3.39 per year for a Band D property. Amounting to slightly less than a 2% increase, this would bring in about £1million per year and go some way towards filling this year’s expected budget gap.
“Anything less than this would result in a greater reduction in police officer numbers and effect the level of service that Derbyshire Constabulary is able to provide – something that nobody wants to happen,” he said.
“Put simply, we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. If we seek an increase that’s higher than 2% the Government has said this will trigger a local referendum, which is not something I am prepared to do at this time.
“If we stick to within the Government’s ‘under 2%’ limit we will raise around £1m. However, this will not prevent the need for difficult decisions including the likelihood of some reduction in police officer and staff numbers and in the number of buildings used by Derbyshire Constabulary.”
He continued: “Every year since 2010 the government grant – which funds two-thirds of policing in Derbyshire – has been cut. Disappointingly, we are facing similar treatment this year. To try to offset this, I have been working with Chief Constable Mick Creedon to identify savings and balance the budget. Much progress has been made but we still expect a shortfall.”
Despite the cuts in recent years, recorded crime used in Government statistics has continued to fall in Derbyshire. “This is quite remarkable and is thanks to the dedication of our police service,” the Commissioner commented.
“However, there is clear evidence that digital and cyber-crime – which is not included in the statistics – is increasingly significantly. This is an area of crime that we clearly need to deal with, but more funding is crucial to help reduce the number of victims.”
Policing in Derbyshire in 2015/16 will cost around £169m and around one-third of the total funding comes from the policing element of the council tax.
The Commissioner is keen for as many council taxpayers as possible to respond to his short on-line survey by Sunday, 25 January. Questions invite views on whether the tax should be increased by more or less than 2%, whether it is ‘about right’ or whether it should be reduced.
To access the survey, go to: http://www.derbyshire-pcc.gov.uk/Get-Involved/Consultation-and-Community-Engagement/BudgetConsultation2015-16.aspx or call the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner on 0300 122 6000 for an alternative means of providing your views.