£15 a year increase in Police Council Tax has "Unanimous Support"

In a press release on 3 February it is said that, “Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, won the unanimous support, across politics, of the county’s Police and Crime Panel for her proposal to provide 153 new PCs and protect 'vital' police jobs over the next financial year in a tax rise of less than 30p per week.”
 

The press release continues, -

“The PCC had apologised to the public for having to ask for any more funds at a time of economic uncertainty due to the pandemic but pointed to the need to deliver on her promise to increase officer numbers each year in one of the most financially vulnerable forces in the country and to protect essential police officer and staff jobs.

 

“I have been able to keep my promise to deliver more officers to Bedfordshire Police than in recruitment for over a decade, with a rise in new posts in every one of the five years while I have been the Commissioner and, while I genuinely would have preferred not to issue any rise at all to the council tax precept that pays for 38% of all our policing in Bedfordshire, there really was no choice, while every community tells me that having more visible policing is what is key to them.

 

“I was particularly delighted that, despite this now being a run-up to the next PCC election, no politics were brought into this critical decision for policing and my Panel colleagues, across all political parties represented as well as the independent member present, voted unanimously to support me.

 

“The fact is that, while in previous years when surveying the public in advance of this critical annual vote, I have been able simply to list all the positive additional services and officers that I was creating within Bedfordshire Police, this year a failure to win the maximum possible grant of just under 30p per week or £1.25 per average 'Band D' home would have directly resulted in the loss of services which are vital for victim support and the safety of our communities,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 

PCC Holloway told Police and Crime Panel members that such services under threat without the rise were:-

- 15 Police Community Support Officers who are among the most visible officers, problem-solving issues from homelessness and street drinking to Anti Social Behaviour in communities.

- 5 Force Contact Centre control room staff who answer calls for help from the public when they need police most on 999 and 101, also monitoring CCTV and starting a crime investigation.

- Investment in Cyber Crime defence and investigation systems, despite this being the type of crime most likely to be experienced by the public.

- Specialist Warrants Officers who ensure named offenders who should be apprehended by police are traced and brought to justice when they are wanted by the courts or for recall to prison. 

- 10 Investigation Officers who would have to have been replaced with police officers - taking 10 officers away from street duties to take on the investigative role from Kempston HQ.

 

- File Management specialist staff, who ensure the best possible file quality to gain successful prosecutions and justice for victims. Police officers would have been drawn away from 999 response duties to work on such files if this was the case.

 

The PCC’s survey question, put to the public between 15th December 2020 to 20th January 2021 resulted in majority support for the proposed council tax rise. Commissioner Holloway opened her request to the public with an apology for asking for more assistance to pay for policing.

 

The survey question read:  “I deeply regret having to ask for any more funding from you at a time of such economic uncertainty however, without raising the council tax precept which pays for 38% of your policing, by £1.25 per month (£15 over the year) Bedfordshire Police and the public would be in the position of losing services and officers. Will you support this proposal to retain the following which are vital to deliver justice for victims and services for the wider public?”

 

Last year the PCC created more than the 160 new Police Constables that she had promised in what was the largest single recruitment drive at Bedfordshire Police for in excess of 10 years.  

 

The £15 rise per 'Band D’ home - or £1.25 per month - was the highest that the PCC could have asked for without triggering a referendum. The Commissioner will be voluntarily standing down from her role at the next PCC elections in May after serving for a year longer than she had intended after the election of 2020 was postponed due to the pandemic.

 

“I am leaving Bedfordshire Police in a very, very much better place than that which I inherited in 2016. While we still need to find savings of £2m a year over the next three years which, sadly is not unusual in policing given the spiralling demands on forces, I have laid the foundation for a balanced budget for my successor to inherit all the way to 2025 and 153 new officers this year.

 

“These posts represent around 100 to replace those who choose to leave or retire each year, 51 Constables for Bedfordshire alone and two to meet our commitment to the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit which concentrates on Counter Terrorism and enforcement against Organised Crime Groups behind the drug, weapons and slavery trade,” said Commissioner Holloway.


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