Budget proposals for Leicestershire Police in 2018/19, published today (24 January), include an increase in neighbourhood police officers, investment in new technology to improve efficiency and an increase in the number of crime investigators working on sexual assaults.
The plans, which must now be presented to the Police and Crime Panel, include the increase of £1 a month in the amount of council tax paid towards policing by an average (Band D) property proposed by Policing Minister Nick Hurd on 19 December 2017.
Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach has responsibility for setting the budget for policing in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, which include setting the policing precept or the police share of the overall council tax bill.
Determined to take public opinion into account he launched a survey following the Minister’s statement to establish whether or not residents wish to support their local police service through an increase in their council tax payments.
The survey closed on 18 January with responses showing strong public approval for the increase: 1,743 residents responded with nearly three-quarter signalling their support.
If the Police and Crime Panel approves the precept increase at its meeting on 31 January, the total amount paid towards policing by a Band D household will go from £187.23 this year to £199.23 in 2018/19.
Taking into account the government’s police grant – which has not increased in line with inflation - and the precept increase, the net revenue budget for policing Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland will be set at £176.255M for the year. This includes a contribution of £5.058M from reserves.
Willy Bach said: “This budget is the responsible way forward. It boosts police capacity in vital areas of policing and lays solid foundations for the future.
“The Government clearly agreed with our arguments for an increase in police funding, but it is disappointing that in doing so it is forcing me to ask local people to pay more instead of increasing its central government grant.
“I want to thank local people for their support for the proposal which shows that they too recognise the need to protect policing. I should also point out that as most properties in our force area are rated lower than Band D the majority of householders will pay less than £1 per month extra next year.
“If it’s agreed, the increase in council tax will raise £2.6 million more in 2018/19 than the 1.99% annual increase we’ve been allowed over the last few years. Without this increase, I would be explaining why police numbers were being cut by a further 52.
“Instead, with the increase and a substantial contribution from reserves, I’m able to announce plans to increase officer numbers by 24, equating to three officers for each Neighbourhood Police Area. There will also be four additional crime investigators to handle sexual assault cases plus an additional post to support the drive for a truly diverse workforce.
“We will invest in new technology designed to save valuable time and resources in line with the Minister’s priorities outlined in his statement. This will include remote fingerprint recognition facilities enabling fingerprints to be checked ‘on the spot’.
“When I was elected I pledged to increase police officer visibility and every measure we are taking in this year’s budget is designed to increase the time spent on frontline policing, making officers more accessible to the public. In real terms this budget will save 52 officer posts and fund a further 24, securing a total of 76 police officer posts.
“I believe that this budget goes as far as it can to enhance the delivery of my Police and Crime Plan and in doing so, meet public needs and expectations. It is a responsible budget that looks both to the present and to future years, where there still remains uncertainty regarding funding.”
The Budget Report can be found here
Relevant Extracts from the Policing Minister’s Statement
… In 2018/19, we will provide each PCC with the same amount of core Government grant funding as in 2017/18. Protecting police grant means PCCs retain the full benefit from any additional local Council Tax income. Alongside this, we are providing further flexibility to PCCs in England to increase their Band D precept by up to £12 in 2018/19 without the need to call a local referendum. This is equivalent to up to £1 per month for a typical Band D household.
… Following my discussions with forces and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) efficiency findings, I have three clear priorities:
A Seek and deliver further cost efficiencies. I welcome the progress forces have made against the £350m procurement savings target set at Spending Review 2015. However, there is a lot more to do. We have helped to identify £100m of potential savings in areas such as fleet, professional services and construction. Forces will need to make greater use of national procurement through lead forces to make these savings. We are providing support through the Police Transformation Fund and we will also help establish a force-led National Centre of Excellence to drive down back-office costs, and make best use of estates.
B A modern digitally enabled workforce that allows frontline officers to spend less time dealing with bureaucracy and more time preventing and fighting crime and protecting the public. If all forces could deliver the same one hour per officer per day of productivity benefits from mobile working as the best in a recent sample with eight forces, this has the potential to free up the equivalent of 11,000 extra officers nationally to provide the proactive policing that committed police officers want to deliver. We will work with policing to set up a specialist team to make sure all police forces have access to, and make use of, the best mobile working apps to enable forces to free up extra hours to spend at the frontline.
C Greater transparency in how public money is used locally. It is necessary for police to hold financial reserves, including primarily for contingencies, emergencies and major change costs. As at March 2017 police forces held usable resource reserves of over £1.6bn. This compares to £1.4bn in 2011. Current reserves held represent 15% of annual police funding to PCCs. There are wide variations between forces with Gwent for example holding 42% and Northumbria holding 6%. This is public money and the public are entitled to more information around police plans for reserves and how those plans will support more effective policing. So we will be improving transparency around reserves in the new year through enhanced guidance and through national publication of comparable reserves data. HMICFRS are also consulting on plans for Force Management Statements, which could make more information on police forces available to the public.
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Posted on Wednesday 24th January 2018