Less money for policing no matter who wins general election warns PCC

John Tizard. Image: Labour Party
John Tizard. Image: Labour Party

Bedfordshire’s new police and crime commissioner said he wants to see the county’s force improve but has warned that there could be less police funding after the general election – no matter who wins.

John Tizard, who was elected as the police and crime commissioner (PCC) in May, told the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel (June 4) that he is assured that Bedfordshire Police is in a “good place”.

“But if the chief constable was here he would say he wants to improve further,” the PCC said, “I certainly want to see improvement and I’m sure everyone in this room does.

“And even more importantly, the thousands of people who live in Bedfordshire and the businesses in Bedfordshire [would].

“It’s about how we get that continuous improvement and there will be some tough decisions to be made because resources are finite.

“And they’re not only finite, they’re limited and constrained. I suspect whatever happens on July 4 we’re not going to have a huge amount of additional funding. We may have less, for a period of time, from central government for policing

“So we’ve got to actually be sure we are meeting the priorities and targeting those with the resources [we have].

“And I think that will mean we’ve got to have some conversations about what the police may or may not be able to do in order to really tackle what matters,” he said.

Panel chair, Mr Paul Downing, asked about the “xth” increase in a row of the police precept.

“Basically you’ve been given a budget,” he said to the PCC, and it was on the understanding that it would help in five specific areas.

“[The panel] was told that the increase in precept will help in the battle against retail crime, the force control room, crime prevention, immediate justice, and speeding.

“I don’t know whether you have any emerging thoughts around that?” he asked the PCC.

“I guess it is within your gift to say ‘nothing to do with me governor, but I’ve got the money and I’m going to use it as I see fit’,” he said.

The PCC reminded the panel that he is only in week four, and he hasn’t reset the budget.

“I will be producing a police and crime plan and very much looking forward to [the panel’s] contribution to that, which will set at how we’re going to police… in for the coming four years.

“And that will certainly pick up the determination of the budget. I chose my words with care, it was easy to promise what that increase in preset would deliver.

“But putting it bluntly, the increase in precept filled the hole left by some decade or more of underfunding by central government,” he said.

By John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter