Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa is asking the public if they would support a small increase in council tax to keep Derbyshire safe.
Launching a new online survey, the Commissioner said more resources were needed to repair the damage brought by a decade of austerity and is asking local people whether they would be willing to pay more to strengthen policing services in the future.
Derbyshire is expecting to recruit 283 police officers under the government’s uplift programme, which pledges to increase police officers nationally by 20,000 by 31 March 2023. The Constabulary is already well on its way to recruiting the first 50 extra officers this year (2019-20), with plans to recruit a further 35 from April onwards. The remainder will be recruited in 2021-22 and 2022-23.
However, Mr Dhindsa said the plans failed to address the cuts to police staff numbers and infrastructure including IT, estate, vehicles and equipment, made since 2010. This has seen Derbyshire lose more than 400 police officers and the best part of 300 police staff during that time as the Force grappled with cuts of some £40m.
The PCC is now asking local people for their views on what level of support they would be prepared to pay before setting the 2020-2021 budget.
“I am tremendously grateful for the public’s support over these difficult years and really value the feedback, which has helped me make vital decisions on the future of policing in Derbyshire,” he said.
“Although the Chief and I welcome the national uplift, it does nothing to help forces out of the red financially and indeed many continue to make cuts to simply break even. We will continue to face some very difficult decisions if the government does not increase funding for policing generally over and above the 20,000 pledge. That would mean cuts for Derbyshire.”
The Commissioner said he had already begun to repair Derbyshire’s depleted frontline by increasing overall numbers by 145 (83 police officers and 62 staff) since coming to office, largely thanks to the public’s support.
“But we still have much to do to restore Derbyshire Constabulary to the position it was in before 2010, let alone develop the service to meet the new and emerging risks, threats and challenges faced by the police,” said Mr Dhindsa.
He added that neither the Chief nor himself were happy with the difficult financial position they faced and would continue to lobby the government for more funding. Until then, however, he urged the public to share their views on what level of support they would be happy to provide as council tax-payers to protect the police service in the future.
Chief Constable Peter Goodman has written to the PCC setting out his request for a £10 increase to the 2020-21 council tax precept, subject to the maximum level set by the Government, which he says will put the Force in a better position to meet the challenges that lay ahead.
“I believe that it is fair to say that up until recently, and as a result of austerity, the Constabulary has been operating at a level at which we have only been able to deliver essential services. In the past two years, and with your support, I have been able to invest in the areas of greatest risk and threat, and together we have provided a specific uplift of resources to the area of neighbourhood policing,” said the Chief.
He added: “Ultimately, and in order to meet our principle of keeping Derbyshire safer together with our partners, we require investment. The combination of the uplift of Police Officers combined with a £10 precept increase (if allowed by the Government) would put the Constabulary in a better place in which it is fit to meet the challenges, both known and unknown, that lay ahead in 2020/21 and beyond.”
To complete the survey visit: https://www.derbyshire-pcc.gov.uk/Budget2020-21
Media enquiries: Sallie Blair, 01283 821012
Posted on Thursday 16th January 2020