A rise in the policing precept needs to be matched with a fairer funding system
Last week, I put my annual budget proposals in front of Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Panel where I asked to raise the amount of money you pay for the policing part of your council tax, known as the precept, by 6.2%.
For an average Band D household, that equates to £15 a year or £1.25 a month.
It’s been a difficult decision to make as I’m all too aware of the financial pressures everyone is feeling at the moment and that’s why it was important we consulted widely and gave you every chance to tell us how you felt about the proposals.
Over 2,700 people responded to my “Use Your Voice” survey which ran for six weeks and as well as being able to complete it online, we took it on the road to schools, shopping centres and public buildings across Swindon and Wiltshire. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you if you took the time to complete it.
The majority of people responding to the survey said they would be prepared to support a maximum rise of the precept but it’s important for me to make clear the reasons why I’ve asked you to support that option.
Without putting up the precept at all, Wiltshire Police would have needed to find savings of over £4M in the next year which would have affected our ability to deliver the service you want and deserve. Even by increasing the precept by £15 a year, we will still need to make savings but I’m confident the Chief Constable and I will make those savings whilst at the same time, delivering a better service.
When we say better service, we will be able to put thirty-two extra police officers on the streets of Wiltshire. This is in addition to the new officers who will be funded by the national Uplift programme. We will also be investing in our cyber security and forensic teams to improve the service we provide.
I am constantly speaking to our local MPs and government ministers about the funding formula which makes Wiltshire the third lowest funded force per head of population. We need to have a system which is fairer and provides our police force with the investment from central government that’s equal with similar forces to ours.
If Wiltshire Police was to be paid the national average for each head of population in Wiltshire and Swindon, we would be able to afford something in the region of an extra 100 fully trained and fully equipped police officers.
I welcome the news that the Home Office has said they will be reviewing the police funding formula. By raising the precept as much as I can, we can show that Wiltshire and Swindon is playing its part in funding our police force and this puts us in a stronger position.
With more officers on our streets and a better use of our existing funds, I hope you will see an improvement in the service you receive from Wiltshire Police over the next year and see value for money in the measures I’ve taken to make Wiltshire a safer place to live and work.