77% back council tax increase to recruit more Bedfordshire police officers

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Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway

March: Earlier this year, I consulted residents of Bedfordshire and asked for your opinion on whether or not you would be prepared to contribute an extra £2 per month through your Council Tax to increase the number of officers the Chief Constable would have to police Bedfordshire and create further capacity in his ability to protect the public of Bedfordshire.

Over 77% of those who completed the survey voted in favour of the increase, as did the Police and Crime Panel, which holds me to account.

As a result, the £2 per month increase in the police share of council tax allows me to back the recruitment of up to 400 new Police Constables over the next three years – 160 in this current financial year – and, what is more, to double the number of PCs in Community Policing across Bedfordshire.

The recruits will be funded as a result of a combination of the unique Special Policing Grant of £4.571m that I won from the Home Office last December and a total of £8m, made up of the police’s council tax precept and Government grants of £1.1 and £1.3m as part of the Policing Settlement for all forces for this financial year, which was also announced in December.

The budget also depended on savings from scrutiny of every officer, member of staff and expenditure in 20 departments at Bedfordshire Police so far, which make up half the Force.

Kathryn Holloway Police and Crime Panel
Police and Crime Panel

I have been insistent that the increase in council tax was not simply used to tackle costs rising with inflation like pay, pensions and insurance, but to deliver a meaningful uplift in officers in visible policing in communities.

This is why we have agreed a budget which creates 160 new PCs in Bedfordshire in the year 2019-20 and that those going into the eight Community Policing Hubs in towns around the county, will double the available number of PCs already in post in neighbourhood policing. This is a really meaningful uplift and is what everybody tells me they want.

Every single community, everywhere I go in the county, wants to see more officers in communities and that is also what I have agreed with the Force, with this very significant uplift in Community Hub officers as it has been imperative to me that people get a change that is palatable to them if having to pay an extra £2 per month.

I also am pleased to share news that Bedfordshire Police is to create a Neighbourhood Intervention Team made up of a Sergeant and nine PCs to move from area to area as trouble shooters following the success of Operation Hilton, which was set up to combat drug dealing in Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard, in early autumn 2018.

I know that continuing to fund improvements in policing through the council tax precept are not sustainable. I have raised Bedfordshire Police’s case with every Policing Minister, Home Secretary, the Prime Minister, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chancellor and the Security Minister but, as governments come and go, what is just as important is that the Police Funding Team of civil servants, who are always in place, now fully understand the plight of Bedfordshire Police as they had to go over the books to agree the Special Grant of £4.571m and I will be asking them to do so again this year.

This is a monthly guest column provided by
PCC Kathryn Holloway and published unedited.