Police and Crime Panel Support PCC’s Budget (2 Feb 2018)

The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel has supported the Police and Crime Commissioner's proposal to increase the police element of the council tax by £12 on a Band D property based on his commitments to continue to recruit more police officers and transform policing in West Yorkshire.

As part of its role to scrutinise and support the decisions of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), the Police and Crime Panel has to decide whether to back his proposed precept increase for 2018/19.

This year the Government has allowed greater flexibility to PCCS to enable them to propose a larger increase in the policing precept. West Yorkshire continues to have the third lowest level of policing precept included within residents' council tax in the country. The PCC has consulted with the public and found that the majority of respondents were happy to pay more.

After posing a series of challenging questions to the PCC about his budget proposals, the Panel unanimously agreed to approve the 7.95% increase in the policing precept. This equates to an annual increase of £12 per year for Band D council tax payers, but on average around 15 - 18p per week for most taxpayers in Band A and B across West Yorkshire.

The Panel emphasised that their support for the increased precept was based on the PCC's commitment to recruit a further 143 police officer equivalents and protect current PCSO posts to strengthen neighbourhood policing. The PCC also committed to ensuring that the Force further innovates and transforms the way it operates to ensure future challenges can be met.

Chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Cllr Alison Lowe said "It has been a hard decision for the members on the Police and Crime Panel as we recognise that this increase is an additional burden to residents in West Yorkshire, however this has to be balanced with the need to keep the public safe at a time of increasing demand on police services. I am pleased that the Panel has chosen to support the PCC to help continue to rebuild police officer numbers in West Yorkshire and transform the way policing is undertaken.

"The Panel has made it clear to the Commissioner that we will scrutinise and challenge him to account for the spending agreed today and we will be reporting to residents of West Yorkshire through our meetings and the website to give assurances about value for money. The Police and Crime Panel are particularly keen to ensure that the Commissioner meets his recruitment targets and strengthens policing in key priority areas, whilst ensuring value for money for the people of West Yorkshire. "

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "I welcome the Police and Crime Panel's support today in accepting my police precept proposal. This now means more policing resources to help keep us safe here in West Yorkshire, which otherwise wouldn't have been the case.

"79% of people I surveyed before the proposal told me they'd be prepared to pay more for policing and the 7.95% increase in the police precept equates to £1 a month for residents in Band D properties. For most people in West Yorkshire the increase will be less than £10 a year or less than 20 pence per week.

"I certainly didn't want to put any extra unnecessary burden on local tax payers. However the Government has given me little choice with a further real terms cut to our budget which equates to over £9m this year alone, despite my continued request for more money for an area of some of the greatest need. Since 2010 the Government have cut our budget by roughly a third at the cost of over 2000 police jobs.

"This precept increase will ensure more resources will be allocated to strengthen neighbourhood policing and to protect the numbers of Police and Community Support Officers but also to tackle the priorities in my West Yorkshire Police and Crime Plan such as road safety, cyber crime, child sex exploitation and domestic abuse to name a few.

"I will continue to work closely with the Chief Constable, West Yorkshire Police and our partners to ensure we invest wisely in key areas to help tackle the various policing demands and keep our communities safe and feeling safe."

A full report outlining the Panel's decision and recommendations will be submitted to the Commissioner by February 8th and published on the Police and Crime Panel's website (www.westyorkshire-pcp.gov.uk)

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019