Police and Crime Panel Supports Commissioner's Investment in Frontline Policing (6 Feb 2013)

The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel has supported the Police and Crime Commissioner's proposal to increase the policing precept by 3.8%, based on the guarantee that this additional funding will be used to put more front line police officers on our streets.

As well as leading to the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners in November 2012, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 also established a role for Police and Crime Panels to effectively scrutinise and support the work of the Commissioner on behalf of all residents across West Yorkshire.

One of the Panel's first jobs was to consider the Commissioner's recommended precept level, the policing element of local Council Tax, and to seek assurances that the proposed extra 1p per household per day for the majority of households, represented value for money for communities in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield.

After posing a series of challenging questions to the Commissioner about his proposal and the budget assumptions that underpinned it, the Police and Crime Panel agreed to support the 3.8% increase in the policing precept, which equates to a maximum of a 0.39% increase in Council Tax overall, depending on the particular district.

The Panel emphasised that their support for the increased precept was based on the Commissioner's commitment to invest £1.4 million into the recruitment of 44 new police officers across West Yorkshire and to continue to protect front line policing.

Chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Cllr Peter Box CBE stressed 'as a Panel, our priority was ensuring that the people of West Yorkshire would directly benefit from the extra £5 Band D taxpayers will be paying a year for policing. After a lengthy discussion with the Commissioner we felt confident that the public will benefit from the investment and that front line policing will be strengthened in each of the districts.'

Cllr Box said the Panel agreed the Commissioner's proposed precept on the grounds that over the next twelve months he will:

  • Look to reduce the overall cost of his Office so it faces the same level of reductions as the Force;
  • Identify further efficiency savings through joint service provision with local authorities, criminal justice agencies and other police forces in the region;
  • Guarantee savings will be sought wherever possible through the re-organisation of back office functions and not through cuts to front line policing; and
  • Initiate the recruitment of the additional 44 police officers immediately and in a way which promotes diversity within the Force.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said: "I am really pleased the Police and Crime Panel supported my proposal to increase the police precept to recruit 44 police officers. My priority is frontline policing across West Yorkshire to ensure communities feel safer and, although a difficult decision, the Panel has given their support for this.

"Although I had the option of accepting a grant from the Government to freeze the precept for a year I chose not to do that as I would have had to make up the shortfall next year.

"The increase of 3.8 per cent means that most householders in West Yorkshire will pay a penny a day more for policing in their council tax.

"My decision was informed by feedback from my 'Listening to You First survey' where a majority told me that visible policing was important and they would be prepared to pay more for frontline policing.

"I have assured the Police and Crime Panel that the money raised will be spent on frontline policing and spread as evenly as possible across West Yorkshire."

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

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2012.