County police chief proposes tax hike to 'increase police numbers'; rivals say public will ‘pay more and get less’ - The Rugby Observer

County police chief proposes tax hike to 'increase police numbers'; rivals say public will ‘pay more and get less’

Rugby Editorial 26th Jan, 2021   0

THE CHIEF of Warwickshire Police has announced a tax rise in his draft budget for 2021/22 to ‘increase police numbers and protect the vulnerable’, amid accusations from political rivals that residents will ‘pay more and get less’.

Warwickshire’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Philip Seccombe plans to raise the police element of Council Tax by 6.3 per cent – equivalent to around £15 extra a year on a Band D property.

He says the investment will fund 41 new officers, more Independent Sexual Violence Advisors to support victims of sexual offences and domestic abuse, and more resources for teams working with vulnerable victims, child exploitation and trafficking.

Mr Seccombe said: “The feedback the public has given me through the ‘Your Police, Your Views’ consultation has underlined that people continue to value policing but want an enhanced service which continues to focus on reducing crime and protecting the most vulnerable.




“They also want to see a service which is better able to respond to serious crime, as well as some of the more hidden harms like domestic abuse and child exploitation.

“Providing the funding to meet these priorities is never an easy task, particularly in an area like ours where half of all funding comes from our government grant. While there has been an increase in the core grant, some other ring-fenced grants have been frozen – bringing real financial pressures for the force.


“With the addition of the challenges and costs of the pandemic, setting this year’s budget has probably been the hardest task of my five years in office. I understand the financial pressures that all households are under.

“We cannot spend more than we receive and there is always the challenge of trying to deliver improved services while maintaining the sustainability of the force.

“I believe this budget meets the balance of protecting existing investments and delivering efficiency savings, while also providing more resources to tackle the priorities that communities tell me are the most important.”

He added the draft budget would also support the force’s ongoing transformation programme, which includes the rollout of improved technology and infrastructure for frontline policing.

But Labour’s candidate for Warwickshire PCC pointed out the programme will also make 87 civilian staff members redundant – including nine Domestic Abuse Risk Officers with combined experience of over 70 years, who will be replaced by constables.

Ben Twomey said: “For the fourth year in a row, the PCC is putting up local taxes. The hikes come with promises of better services, yet we know that right now 87 police staff, including the entire Domestic Abuse Unit, are being made redundant.

“Conservative cuts have left Warwickshire Police £20m short since 2010. The PCC asks the people of Warwickshire to fill that funding hole. Local people deserve better.”

Labour MP for Warwick and Leamington Matt Western added: “The PCC seeks to divert attention from the loss of 87 office staff involved in investigations. So we lose 87 investigations unit staff with a promise to get 41 more police officers, while the public is paying 20 per cent more in Police Tax than three years ago.

“His consultation does not reflect what I am hearing from my constituents – particularly those already struggling due to the callous decisions of this government.

“The commissioner should have been demanding the government provide a fair settlement without having to charge the public more in return for less. This is especially important amid the shocking rise in knife crime and a surge in domestic violence.

“Residents – particularly the most disadvantaged – should not have to pay more in exchange for feeling safe.”

The PCC will present his finalised budget to the Warwickshire Police and Crime Panel on February 1. Visit https://tinyurl.com/yygbwlqp to view the draft budget.

The Your Police, Your Views consultation remains open until 5pm tomorrow (Wednesday January 27). Visit https://tinyurl.com/y22gofbu to take part.

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