Lancashire police boss: Will YOU pay more tax to help underfunded police services?
Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner has launched a survey asking if residents would be willing to pay a maximum of 46p per week more to fund the recruitment of 80 new police officers and increase proactive policing in their communities.
Commissioner Clive Grunshaw's proposal comes in the wake of the government's latest budget announcement, which Mr Grunshaw claims the buck has once again been passed to council tax payers to prop up their local police services.
While the latest financial settlement for Lancashire sees their budget increase by £6.8m and Commissioner Grunshaw welcomes such financial commitment, the funds do not cover the increase to employer pension contributions for policing announced in September, with the real world consequence forecast to be around £7.1m per year from 19/20 for Lancashire Constabulary - the equivalent to over 150 police officers.
"I strongly believe that more funding should come from the Government and I will continue to lobby the Home Secretary and Policing Minister," said Mr Grunshaw. "The current funding for policing isn’t sufficient to deal with growing demands on the police and the financial settlement allows me to raise further funds but only through passing this burden onto council tax payers.
"This isn’t fair and it isn’t sustainable," he added. "However, raising funds through council tax contributions is the only option the Government have given me to protect and bolster policing and if I did not consider this, it would mean a cut to our budget.
"There are over a million calls for service every year to Lancashire Police and investment is needed to keep up with ever increasing demands on policing and to deliver a service the public expect. Police officers and staff are working round the clock to keep people safe but, they are over stretched."
Since 2010, Lancashire Constabulary has had to make over £84m of cuts as a result of the Government slashing £50m of central funding, with an additional £18m of savings required by 2022. Despite the county losing 800 police officer posts and 350 support staff, the Constabulary is still deemed to be efficient and effective by external inspectors.
The public are being asked if they would be prepared to pay an extra 46p per week for a Band D property to invest in policing services in their area - three quarters of Lancashire residents are in lower bands and so would pay less - by raising over £10m for policing in Lancashire.
"Across the county, residents tell me that they want to see better investment in policing," Mr Grunshaw explained. "More detectives are also being recruited by the force following public feedback asking to prioritise investigations around major crimes, child exploitation, and domestic abuse, but they want more police officers and they want to see them out on the streets, tackling crime and keeping us safe.
"Asking for more money, the public quite rightly expect to get something in return and need to feel the difference which is why if the proposals go ahead, it would be spent on 80 extra police officers," he added. "Specialist target teams would be increased to strengthen the force's ability to tackle cross border crime and criminality, focusing on burglary and robbery 24/7 to ensure police are making an impact around the issues that really matter to people and cause the biggest misery and concern."
Residents can have their say on the proposals by completing an online survey, while the Commissioner's office will be conducting a telephone survey with a sample of residents from every part of the county in the coming weeks. Anyone who wants to receive a paper copy of the survey can telephone 01772 533 587 and one will be posted out.
A series of engagement events are also planned for the New Year:
Monday 7th January 10am – 12pm Sainsbury's St Annes
Monday 7th January 2pm – 4pm St Nicolas Arcade Lancaster
Tuesday 8th January 2pm – 4pm Sainsbury's Clitheroe
Wednesday 9th January 10am – 12pm Concourse, Skelmersdale
(More dates to be added.)