Merseyside’s Police Commissioner will take her plans to protect frontline policing to the body which scrutinises her work today after they were supported by 83% of respondents to a public consultation.
More than 1,700 people responded, either in person or online, to the consultation undertaken by the Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, asking whether residents would be prepared to pay a little more to protect frontline policing.
Following strong support from the public, the Commissioner will take her proposals to the Police and Crime Panel today (Friday 7th February) for consideration and approval. She will be joined by the Chief Constable Andy Cooke QPM.
The Commissioner’s consultation followed the Government’s announcement at the end of January which confirmed Merseyside would receive an extra £23m in direct grant to cover the costs of recruiting 200 new officers this next year, including providing items such as uniforms, vehicles, and additional office space and infrastructure.
However, the Government did not provide any additional money to cover the increase in the force’s day-to-day running costs, in particular last year’s pay rise. Instead ministers gave Police and Crime Commissioners the power to raise the local council tax to cover such costs to ensure the budget can be balanced for the next financial year, without making cuts to the service.
The increase equates to 13p a week or £6.67 a year for a Band A household, the lowest Council Tax category, but the amount paid by the majority of taxpayers in Merseyside. This would generate an extra £4.8m for Merseyside Police for the year ahead.
With the government expecting local taxpayers to contribute more, the Commissioner has spent the last 10 days consulting local people to get their views on their willingness to contribute a little more to protect frontline policing.
The results confirmed that 83% of respondents (1,425 people) were willing to approve an increase to the Police Precept, with 14% (240 people) saying they were not prepared to pay more and 3% of people (52) being unsure.
Even after this small increase, the police element of Council Tax bills on Merseyside will still be among the lowest in the country.
Jane said: “While the Government’s funding settlement came as a huge relief with the Prime Minister delivering on his promise to increase the number of police officers in England and Wales, there was no extra funding to cover the increase in annual running costs and pay rises faced by Merseyside Police.
“In order to balance the budget and provide protection from further cuts, I asked local people if they would be willing to contribute a little more. Once again, I have been overwhelmed by the public’s support for their local police service. The response to my consultation shows just how highly people value their police and how desperately they want to see more officers on the beat.
“This additional funding will enable me to ensure the Chief Constable is in the best possible financial position to recruit these additional 200 officers and, potentially start the recruitment of even more officers within the next year. We know this is what the public want and deserve.
“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to give their views – it is greatly reassuring to know how keen local people are to protect their police service. Thanks also to those who feel they are taxed enough already and could not support the proposals. I know everyone is feeling the pinch so asking local people to put their hands in their pockets is something I always do reluctantly.
“Now I have gained the overwhelming support of local people I will take these proposals to the Police and Crime Panel for their consideration.”
During the consultation, the Commissioner held a community roadshow event in each local authority area, with two in Liverpool and Sefton, in order to hear the views of as many people as possible. She also conducted an online survey on her website.
The Commissioner will present her proposal to the Police and Crime Panel at 11am today (Friday 7th February) at a meeting in the Municipal Buildings in Huyton which will also be attended by the Chief Constable.