O ne of my duties as Police and Crime Commissioner is to ensure that Cambridgeshire Constabulary has the resources it needs to keep people safe. As we enter 2018 this means looking at the budget we need for the next financial year – 2018/19, writes Cambridgeshire police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite.
As with other forces, Cambridgeshire Constabulary has faced some financial challenges over the last few years, finding savings of £17.2 million to achieve a balanced budget whilst protecting the front line. This has been achieved in a number of ways including reducing back office staff and collaborating with other forces, other emergency services and partner organisations.
However, in recent years we have seen increasing demand on calls for service, a shift in crime types and a significant reduction in budgets.
The Constabulary is doing all it can to deliver an effective service with the resources available, however there is still more that can be done. A new local policing structure that reduces the management layer and focuses on resources on the front line is currently being implemented. The result of this is an increase of 50 officers across the county.
I welcomed the government’s announcement (just before Christmas) that Police and Crime Commissioners can increase the policing part of the council tax by up to £12 (per Band D property), that’s just £1 per month or 23p per week.
The police income is made up from a government grant (around 60%) with 40% coming from council tax. Any shortfall in income needs to be met from reserves or savings. With the ongoing financial constraints we still face a budget deficit that will need to be recouped over time. However, I have agreed with the Chief Constable that any extra funding from this year will be used to increase officer numbers rather than to balance the budget. You have my word on that.
My preference, that each household (in a Band D property) paid just one extra pound each month, would make a big difference, equating to an additional 55 Police Officers. Whilst I recognise that many people are currently managing on low incomes, this relatively small increase would significantly increase our ability to respond, investigate and deter people from criminality. It would enable the Constabulary to recruit an additional 55 police officers on the frontline to strengthen community safety across the county.
I have been out and about since the beginning of the New Year asking members of the public how much they are willing to support policing as part of their council tax for the coming year.
I would be interested in getting your views.
There’s a short survey on my website which I am hoping as many of you as possible will take the time to complete. There’s a link to the survey on my website http://www.cambridgeshire- pcc.gov.uk/. If you prefer you can give your views by telephone: 0300 333 3456 or by email: cambs- email@example.com.