Just before Christmas, right up until last week I’ve been working with my team to find out the views of local residents on the amount of council tax to be paid for local policing – the police precept. As you know, the Government announced that Northumbria Police will receive central grant funding of £222.7m in 2018/19, which reflects government funding being maintained at the same level as 2017/18 – but only if the Police Precept part of the council tax is increased by £12 for Band D properties.
The Government has determined that total funding for Northumbria (government grant plus precept) of £265.3m can be achieved only if the Police precept part of the local council tax is raised by £12 per year for a Band D property. If the precept is not raised by that amount, there will be a real terms cut to Northumbria Police funding of up to £5.1m. This is in addition to central government funding for Northumbria being reduced by 37% in real terms since 2010.
In Northumbria people living in a band D property currently pay £98.33 per year in council tax for their police service. A £12.00 per year increase on that figure, as calculated by the Government, would mean an extra 23p a week. Most residents in Northumbria have a band A property and for those the increase would be 15p a week (£8.00 for the full year). Northumbria currently has the lowest police precept of all the 43 police forces in England and Wales, by a very long way due to historical factors.
Once again the Government is moving the burden of proper police funding on to council tax payers through the police precept. The government are telling me if I don’t increase the precept by the figure they have used in their funding formula, Northumbria will have less money in real terms to spend on priorities such as neighbourhood policing. Our consultation saw us hit the streets all over the Force area, including the shopping area at Four Lane Ends. We also spoke to nearly 700 people on the phone.
The results were overwhelmingly in favour of the small weekly increase, I am now reviewing all budgets to see where exactly we need to invest money and what the costs will be.
Can I ask you a favour? Northumbria Police recently introduced “Trauma Teddies” to help children who are in contact with the police at a difficult time. This could be following a traffic accident or when the police deal with domestic abuse incidences. Police hand the youngster a teddy, which offers reassurance and support. They have been so popular that we need more. A pattern has been uploaded on my website (www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk)so if you could spare a few hours or if you know somebody who likes knitting who might, please let me know.
Finally, I’ve no doubt that you will be thinking about the local elections. I’m always keen to help our hard working party members. I intend to be out and about across the five authorities where there are elections. Tell me your priority areas and I’ll get there to work with you when I can and look forward to seeing you. My email address is ([email protected])