Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner has published his plans for the 2013/14 police precept, outlining how he is taking Durham Constabulary forward over the next four years.
Deep cuts to police funding imposed by Central Government have required savings of approximately £18.5m over the current four year Comprehensive Spending Review period.
This has meant he has to make difficult financial decisions to balance the force budget whilst maintaining necessary assets such as technology, estates and frontline policing.
Mr Hogg recently completed his first consultation with members of the public, partners and victims of crime to establish the policing priorities that local communities want from their police service as well as the amount people are willing to pay for the precept (the policing element of their Council Tax) for 2013/14.
The results for the top policing priorities from the consultation are: tackling anti-social behaviour, tackling the harm caused to individuals and communities by alcohol and drugs. to improve road safety by tackling careless and dangerous driving and other road safety related offences. to make policing services visible and accessible at all times
Mr Hogg said: “My consultation sought views on precept increases of 0% or 2% which resulted in 62% of respondents opting for a 2% increase. The possibility of a 3% increase was also posed however only 32% of respondents would support this.
Taking into account the outcome of this consultation I proposed a precept increase of 2% as part of my budget for 2013/14. This will cost the majority of households in the Force area a little under 4p per week.
With the support of the Chief Constable the proposed precept was presented to the Police and Crime Panel Meeting when Panel Members agreed the proposed increase.
“Taking into account the views from the consultation, I have established a budget for the future by looking into workforce modernisation and have been able to maintain neighbourhood policing and Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) numbers.
I have set a robust police budget for 2013/14 that is balanced, doesn’t rely on the use of reserves and aims to protect the quality of policing in County Durham and Darlington.
Significant reductions of approximately £100,000 in my own office budget, together with savings from the current year will enable me to make a contribution of approximately £200,000 to support Community Safety Partnership arrangements. This will make good the reductions imposed by Government in transferring the responsibility of Community Safety funding to the PCC.
“I am very determined to ensure savings can be made to balance the budget whilst ensuring value for money can be achieved. I have made it clear that whilst PCCs in larger force areas may feel they need a deputy to assist them, I will not be having one which is a significant cost saving.
Furthermore, I am pleased to announce a dynamic capital programme going forward, which includes the building of the new police headquarters in Durham (saving of maintenance costs of £750,000 per year incurred by the current building), the building of a new police station in Newton Aycliffe, cutting edge police technology and optimising the use of the police estate”.