Monday, September 25, 2023

Should Council Tax Rise To Plug Gap in Police Funding?

Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa has launched a new survey to get public feedback on his plans to increase the number of neighbourhood police officers across the county by raising council tax.

The DPCC office asserts that the police force’s budget has been “crippled by continued underfunding from central government”, and that “the Commissioner is reluctantly proposing to increase the amount of council tax paid by local people towards policing by a further £12 per year (23p per week) in 2019-20 to fund extra police officers in communities across Derbyshire.”

They project that the increase will raise £4.5m of additional funding, and intend to use these funds to recruit additional officers, PCSOs and police staff investigators across the county’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams.  They also state that this will also enable the Commissioner “to draw on reserves to fund improvements to police stations and invest in new equipment and technology.”

Last year’s DPCC budget saw the deployment of 25 extra officers as well as additional resources “to investigate the growing risks of child abuse, child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, sexual violence, domestic extremism and organised crime.”

Mr. Dhindsa expressed his perspective as:
“Nobody wishes to burden local people with a policing bill that in reality should be met by Her Majesty’s Government but in the absence of any increase in central funding – despite the fervent protestations of Chief Officers and PCCs – we have no other choice”

“Policing today is under huge pressure. Demand and risk are spiralling and yet still, after two very credible reports, we find ourselves in the same situation with no extra financial help to rejuvenate our depleted frontline.”

“It is my absolute duty to protect our local communities from harm but to do that I have no alternative but to ask for local taxpayer support. This critical income, which will be raised via a small increase in the amount you pay towards policing, will help me strengthen our neighbourhood policing teams, increase visibility in our communities and increase the headcount of officers able to respond to your problems.

“However, you must have a say in my decision which is why I am launching this public consultation to elicit your views. Please do take the time to share your views.”

The argument in favour of the plan is that the police force is underfunded and the reduction of service by this underfunding puts the public at risk, especially with rising knife crime in the area (an issue which is currently being tackled by a police education initiative in schools), and so the public should foot the bill to ensure safety.

The underfunding of police forces across the nation has been recognised by many investigating bodies, including the National Audit Office, who said that current funding models are “ineffective and detached” from the nature of modern policing.  The Public Accounts Committee published a report this month on the “Financial Sustainability of Police Forces”.  This report also confirmed that all police forces are currently underfunded.

Financially, the cost of Derbyshire’s policing in 2018 is estimated at £169.17m. The Government’s Police Grant has reduced by 30% since 2010/11, which has resulted in Derbyshire losing more than 400 officers along with 400 support staff.  The reduction in funding comes to about £40m.  Derbyshire’s Chief Constable has said he needs at least 400 officers and staff reinstated to provide a resilient response to fighting crime and protecting Derbyshire’s communities.

There are limits on how the Police and Crime Commissioner can raise extras funds for local policing, and in regards to council tax specifically, the government limits the amount by which the Commissioner can raise it.  This limit is called “the cap” and that cap is £12 maximum on a band D property.  The government has declared that it will raise the cap, so that the public foot the shortfall of government funding.

You can express your opinions on this plan in the Commissioner’s survey here .

Clare Washbrook

Current Editor-in-Chief News and magazine editor since 1995 Post-grads: Literature; Theatre; Journalism, Ethics & Law Community Affiliations: Belper Goes Green, Belper's WW1 Poppies, Amber Valley Solidarity No political party memberships/affiliations.

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