Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has criticised the Government for increasing the burden of paying for policing on local council taxpayers as she set the Force’s budget for the next financial year today.
Jane Kennedy was joined by Merseyside Police Chief Constable, Andy Cooke QPM, for a public meeting at the Commissioner’s office in Allerton Police Station, where they approved a balanced budget for Merseyside Police for the next 12 months.
It follows a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel, the body which scrutinises the Commissioner’s work, where members considered and unanimously approved Jane’s plan to safeguard local policing jobs by increasing the council precept by £1 a month.
The Commissioner’s budget plan follows the disappointing announcement in December that the police would, once again, receive no new money from the Home Office. Instead, Policing Minister Nick Hurd MP said he expected Police and Crime Commissioners to ask local people to pay more.
Jane reluctantly took the decision to introduce the increase – which works out as 15p a week for Band A property – after a Merseyside-wide consultation during which 77% of respondents indicated their willingness to pay the additional money to protect police officer numbers. The increase will generate an extra £4.35m and protect 87 police officer posts.
A further £7m of cuts, which have already been identified, will still need to be made to Merseyside Police’s budget, while a further £800,000 will be used from reserves in order to balance the books.
Jane Kennedy said: “Setting the budget is never an easy task, but this year was particularly challenging. While the government recognised and highlighted the need for additional resources for policing, they once again failed to provide it.
“Instead, they sidestepped their responsibility by making it clear that local people should be asked to make up the shortfall. This has shifted the burden of paying for the police service from those who earn the most increasingly on to the shoulders of those who earn the least. It is a regressive step.
“As the Police and Crime Panel recognised, I have effectively been left with no alternative. Thankfully, local people have once again demonstrated their commitment to supporting local policing, sadly the same cannot be said for this government. The Government’s promise to protect the police is broken.
“By March, the Force will have lost 1,100 officers and more than 600 PCSOs and staff. We cannot afford to lose any more. I will continue to do everything I can, working with the Chief Constable and the region’s MPs, to highlight my grave concerns to ministers and encourage them to better understand the significant and worrying impact these ongoing cuts are having on Merseyside Police.”
View the full Budget Report.