We have received this message from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Anthony Stansfeld:
On Tuesday 19th December the Home Secretary announced a substantial £450 million increase in police funding across England and Wales. However, this funding package assumes that all Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will raise the police element of council tax by £1 a month (or £12 a year) for a band D property which, collectively, will raise £270 million of the £450 million increase. This will allow forces to continue to provide an effective service in their critical work to fight crime and protect the public.
At present around 60% of Thames Valley Police’s £393 million annual policing budget is funded by central government, with the policing element of your council tax making up the remainder. Since 2010/11 the police grant has been cut by around 38% in real terms which has resulted in Thames Valley Police (TVP) having to make £99 million of savings in order to balance the budget. These cuts have already led to a manpower reduction of over 1,000 full time equivalent posts, including more than 450 police officers.
Setting the budget for 2018/19 needs to be considered in the context of an already constrained financial position as well as the additional pressures policing faces as demand in some of the most complex and challenging areas continues to increase. This includes rising reports and cases of hidden crimes such as domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual offences, serious violence and exploitation have all increased the pressure on police resources.
Needless to say this is proving to be extremely challenging and without the increase of £12 per year in council tax, as recommended by the Home Secretary, we would have to make further significant reductions in police officers and staff which will affect the level and quality of policing service we are able to offer you.
In November 2017 TVP was judged by the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to be ‘outstanding’ in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. This includes an ‘outstanding’ for its understanding of demand and its use of resources to manage demand, and its planning for future demand was judged to be ‘good’. Thames Valley Police was one of only two forces nationally to have been awarded an overall rating of outstanding.
Ideally I would not choose to consult over the busy Christmas and New Year period and particularly on such an important issue, however, the Chief Constable and I only received the provisional police grant settlement for 2018/19 from the Home Office on Tuesday 19th December. Unfortunately due to budget decisions needing to be finalised by the end of January I am only able to run the consultation until midday on Thursday 11th January. I apologise for the timing and length of the consultation period but I hope you will take the time to complete the survey which will help the Chief Constable and I to make an informed decision on the budget for 2018/19.
Today I have launched a short online survey to seek your views on this increase, which can be found on the below link and I would encourage you to complete it and share widely:
Those residents who do not have access to the internet can write to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Thames Valley Police Headquarters, Oxford Road, Kidlington, Oxon, OX5 2NX with your answers to the below questions.
Do you think an extra £12 per year in council tax, for a Band D property, to help protect operational policing in Thames Valley would be money well spent?
Yes / No
If you have answered No to question 1 will you please explain why and propose an alternative annual increase that you believe is justified and will enable the Force to do their job effectively?
Please note that all responses needs to be received by midday on Thursday 11th January 2018