Posted: Wednesday 3rd June 2015
The continuing barrage of Government cuts in police budgets has an inevitable effect on the way that Derbyshire Constabulary can operate. We are nonetheless doing all we can to ensure that the changes we have to make do not compromise the safety of residents and businesses in our city and county.
As part of the process, and to minimise reduction in police officer numbers, I found it necessary to ask for an increase of just under 2% in the part of the council tax that is paid towards policing. Without this increase of £3.39 per year we would lose an additional 160 officers. I realise that policing is not alone in facing hard times, and I am sorry to ask for this extra contribution in tax. But I know how you want to see, the number of Police Officers in Derbyshire maintained as far as we possibly can and not reduced. Unfortunately, in the face of the Government’s ongoing stringent cuts to the Derbyshire Police budget, to try and lessen the reduction in the number of Police Officers keeping us all safe I have to ask local residents to contribute an additional small amount of less than 1p per day.
Within the force, cost-cutting changes we are making include closing a number of police stations and other buildings, reducing the 16 public enquiry offices currently open down to four during the 2015/16 financial year. I understand that people don’t like to see stations close, but in these times of austerity it does bring considerable positives. The money we save on the buildings allows us to introduce more of the new technology that allows our officers to stay out in the community when they would otherwise be returning to their stations.
Most of the buildings being closed are, in fact, not regularly visited by members of the public as most people today prefer to contact the police by phone, email or text. We are, however, looking at providing alternative bases for our Safer Neighbourhood Teams – such as in Long Eaton – and we will not be moving out of anywhere without alternative accommodation for these teams set up and ready to go.
I would, of course, like to retain all our stations. But policing is no longer how it was even a decade ago. We have technology at our finger tips, and the knowledge that gives us helps us to keep our communities safe. It also helps us to increase the time that our officers can spend in your area – which has to be a definite plus in anyone’s book. Being more visible helps to reduce crime, enables faster response to residents and brings greater peace of mind. This is all part of our plan to put people before buildings and do our level best to maintain an effective service despite the budget restraints.
Whichever way you look at it, maintaining officer numbers has to be a priority in order to keep people – and particularly the most vulnerable – safe.