TWELVE million pounds in funding needs to be found warns Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness as she hits out at Government for always ‘falling short’ when it comes to police funding.
Kim, who is currently asking for residents’ views on local police funding says a £12.1 million gap will need plugging to offset the financial pressures faced by Northumbria Police.
She said Northumbria Police has not received extra funds to cover the impact of rising bills and finances would have to be found through savings, previous reserves and through the police precept – the part residents pay through local taxes.
If the precept is not increased this would mean a cut of around £4.2m to the force budget, and an additional £8m will need to be found to plug the £12.1m gap. Without a precept increase the Force will be unable to progress with investment in frontline policing.
This year, Government has increased the amount police and crime commissioners can raise the council tax precept by £13 per year and the Commissioner says this move is because Government knows its own funding falls short and they are forcing commissioners to pass the bill onto the tax payer.
As well as offsetting the rising costs facing the force, the commissioner has outlined plans to potentially open some closed police stations, boost frontline police resources and enhancing the force-wide motorbike ASB unit if people support a slight increase to their police precept.
The precept options to fight and prevent crime in the region.
- 72p per month increase for a Band A property – could potentially allow the reopening of some police stations following a review of the police estate. It would help boost ongoing efforts to boost officer recruitment, hire more crime investigators to tackle online crime and create a force-wide unit set up to tackle motorbike anti-social behaviour, expanding on a current trial.
- 56p per month increase for a Band A property – could potentially allow the reopening of some stations but the force would still have to make financial savings and investment in specialist frontline policing would not be possible.
- Zero increase – Northumbria Police has not received extra funds to cover the impact of rising bills. If the precept is not increased this would mean a cut of around £4.2m to the force budget.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “The funds raised through the precept help us keep the wheels on as we keep fighting crime in the shadow of austerity. There are still stark financial pressures facing the force, totalling more than £7m, due to inflation and other rising costs in the years ahead. If police precept bills are frozen it would mean another £4m of cuts facing the force. It would certainly impact plans to invest further in frontline policing, keep more stations open longer and develop specialist crime units – these are things we want to deliver.
“Asking local council taxpayers to help fund our policing is a tough ask – household finances are tight enough for so many as it is. I firmly believe Central Government should provide the funds that would prevent putting them onto the public like this. The fact Government has raised the amount we can ask for speaks volumes – they know their funding settlement doesn’t cover what we need.
“We are being forced into this, but it is the only way we can afford to deliver the things residents want to see if we aren’t given sufficient Government funding – so be it – I am having to ask. In recent years, along with the Chief Constables, we have worked hard to rebuild the frontline improve response ties, invest in technology like drones in the skies and establish specialist units to tackle crime like motorbike disorder. This has all been possible with public backing before and I don’t want this progress to fight crime in our region to stop.
“Funding gained through the police precept will help us to maintain the just, safe, and inclusive police service we need. Without this support, we fill face severe pressure on the police budget.”
Every part of the country relies on funding gathered through Council Tax payments to support their local police force. Northumbria Police is one of the forces hardest hit by the effects of Government austerity and on-going financial cost pressures, while having one of the lowest precept rates in the country. The force has lost more than 1,100 officers and £148m from its budget in the years since 2010.
Over the Christmas period the force has trialled extending opening in rural areas and reopened one station. The Commissioner would like to authorise a wider review of all stations early in 2024 and reopen some of those that were closed under Government austerity.
Local residents within the Northumbria Police force area can have their say by answering two short questions here https://bit.ly/NbriaPol24. The survey will be open until Monday 22nd January 2024.