Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

Consultation shows public want investment in policing

Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner has been consulting with local communities and the clear verdict is – nearly 90% of residents want to see more investment in policing.

Residents were also asked if they would pay 31p a week more towards policing for a Band A property or 46p per week more towards policing for a Band D property to fund Northumbria Police

* The telephone survey reported 71% agreed to pay an increase towards policing.

* Face to face interviews reported 87% agreed to pay an increase towards policing.

* On-line survey reported 56% agreed to pay an increase towards policing.

Dame Vera said: “Local residents value the work our police do, they are always there when we need them most and that is appreciated.”

The Treasury recently announced how much funding Northumbria police would receive for 2019-20. That announcement works on the assumption that the Police and Crime Commissioner will increase the council tax precept by £24 per year for a Band D property – although 56% of properties in Northumbria are Band A where the rise would be £16 a year.

If this increase does not occur Northumbria Police will have £9.4 million less in the year ahead. The public response to our survey makes clear that they are prepared to pay more though many agree with the Commissioner that the government should be paying and not local residents. So the Police Precept increase will be £16 for a Band A property (£24 for Band D). The decision was approved by the Police and Crime Panel unanimously on Tuesday 5th February 2019, which is made up of two members from each of the local authorities that cover the Northumbria Police force and two independent members.

The cost of delivering policing in Northumbria is the lowest in England and Wales by a considerable margin, the yearly cost for Band A properties will be £89.55, whereas the expected average across England and Wales will be around £146.12. (Band D cost in Northumbria will be £134.33 and the expected average across England and Wales will be around £219.19).

Dame Vera said: “The Chief Constable and I continue to take tough decisions every day to make ends meet – we have listened carefully to local residents and we will invest the money into policing including new officers and police staff, and the retention of roles originally planned to be lost.”

Dame Vera added: “Increasing the precept by 31p per week for Band A residents, the majority, isn’t an easy decision, but our consultation showed that as long as the money went into Northumbria Police, residents were agreeable to paying a little more.”

Going forward, Dame Vera will challenge the Home Secretary to sort out Police funding once and for all, demanding that he puts an open and transparent funding package in place that recognised the uniqueness of Northumbria’s communities – whilst not charging local residents more. Dame Vera has written to the Home Secretary calling for an urgent meeting.

Over the next 12 months, the Commissioner and Chief Constable will look to make further efficiencies to build up reserves, to allow the force to deal with any emergency situations that may arise.

Chief Constable, Winton Keenen said: “Tough decisions have had to be taken to make ends meet, residents have said they want to keep officers in the heart of our communities and this decision will help us to do that. The next 12 months won’t be easy, but the right decisions will be taken to protect our communities.”

The Chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Councillor Angela Douglas said “It is clear that after consultation with local residents, the Police and Crime Commissioner reluctantly proposed this increase, due to the government not putting in place a proper funding package. The Panel recognises the need to ensure our police force is fit for purpose and we are supporting the Commissioner to keep a high performing police force delivering for our communities”.