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Commissioner unveils budget designed to protect frontline policing

Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping will today unveil budget proposals intended to help him to bolster the frontline and deliver a raft of new services to the public.

Commissioner Tipping will present the budget and associated proposals for the police precept (the amount of council tax paid towards policing) to the Police and Crime Panel on February 3 for consideration and approval. His financial plans take account of the 4.8% reduction this year of the Force’s main policing grant from the Government and the need to claw back a further £12.7m in efficiency savings over the next 12 months, in addition to the £42m already achieved. 

To help meet the Government’s funding cuts, Commissioner Tipping is proposing to increase the amount local people pay towards the council tax bill by up to 1.96% this year (2014-15). This will see the policing portion of the council tax bill for a Band D household rise from £169.65 to £172.98, an increase of £3.33.  This increase works out at less than a penny a day for the majority of households in Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City. The move is designed to protect performance, sustain frontline policing and make progress towards the goals set out in his Police and Crime Plan while also safeguarding the Force’s financial position in future years. 

Despite the challenging funding circumstances, the budget will enable Commissioner Tipping to meet his pledge to increase police officer and PCSO strength and raise uniform visibility across the county. So far in the current year the Force has undertaken recruitment that sees an extra 90 officers towards this target. The 2014-15 budget allows for a total of 2,142 officers by April 2015 – an increase of 120 since 2012-13 – and 375 PCSOs, an increase of 75 since 2012-13. The increased presence will soon become more visible across Nottinghamshire as the new recruits continue to complete their training over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, savings identified by the Force through regional collaboration and the transformational change programme will fund a series of new initiatives to help Commissioner Tipping meet his Police and Crime Plan ambitions to reduce crime. These include the launch of a rural alert system providing timely crime information to farmers and landowners, the introduction of rural special constables, the expansion of the GPS tagging system and the launch of the Track My Crime scheme to help victims of crime stay informed and reduce the workload on staff.   Track My Crime is an online service that allows victims of crime to access the progress of the investigation of their crime.

Commissioner Tipping strongly supports a ‘prevention over cure’ strategy and is committed to investing in services which tackle the root cause of offending to ease demand on policing and other public services in the future. In view of this, he has created a Prevent Fund and allocated £100K in-force to enable officers to work with partners for prevention purposes including work on mental health issues.  Recognising that community-based support services and treatment providers are instrumental to tackling problems at the source and prevent future offending, Commissioner Tipping has also agreed to maintain funding for the Safer Nottinghamshire Board and Crime and Drugs Partnership at the same level of £3m so they can continue their work to rehabilitate potential offenders.

Commenting on his budget, Commissioner Tipping said: “These are tough and challenging times but I’m delighted that the work the Chief Constable and I have completed means we’re one of the few forces in the country to increase our uniformed presence on the streets. Local people want to see ‘bobbies’ on the beat and that is exactly what we are providing.

“It’s important to remember, however, that sustained recruitment relies on our ability to recognise efficiencies elsewhere in the budget and make bold decisions when necessary to the way we operate. I have confirmed the proposal to close Mansfield Woodhouse Police Station and work with local partners to create a local base in the town for neighbourhood officers. It is an example where we’ve embraced change and improved value for local people.

“Alongside reviewing the way we use our estate, we are also working closely with our regional colleagues to identify potential collaboration solutions within IT and back office functions so that we can prepare not just for next year’s budget but our long-term future. We must accept that relentless funding cuts will inevitably force change upon us in the way we function and the shape of the workforce in the future.

“But change is often positive and both the Chief Constable and I are clear that the introduction of plans to transform the way the force operates and learn from best practices across the country, must be accelerated so that we can deliver the necessary efficiencies in the coming year.

“The public continue to guide my choices, which is why I’m committed to sharing all of the difficult decisions I face with local people whether this is a potential increase in council tax or the future of a police station. Residents tell me that safer streets and visible, accessible policing is their highest priority and I am listening.”

The Chief Constable, Chris Eyre, said: “The Commissioner has made a very strong commitment about what he wants the force to do and he is rightly pushing us hard to ensure we deliver the best policing we can, whilst acknowledging there are still significant financial challenges ahead for police funding.

“The Police Service is changing irrevocably. Yes, shrinking budgets have given us no choice but to operate differently. But I also believe much of what we have done so far to transform our organisation, and the innovation needed to change in the future, are the right things to do.”

Commissioner Tipping’s budget rejects the option of accepting a freeze grant offered by the Government to maintain council tax at the current rate. The grant is worth 1% of the total budget of £193.8m however will cease to exist after 2015-16 which creates a further gap in income.

The Force is currently considering how the estate might become more ‘fit for purpose’ in the future. The number of front counters open to the public is expected to be reduced to take account of low footfall and the fact that local people are using other, more popular, ways of contacting the police. It is also predicted that new ways of working will release an additional 40-50 warranted officers back in frontline policing roles. The outcome of the project is anticipated by the end of March. 

Posted on Friday 24th January 2014
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