As your Police and Crime Commissioner, I am committed to ensuring that your police precept is spent wisely and delivers best value for money. I am committed to ensuring effective spending across policing, to ensure we employ the maximum number of police officers possible. By giving your feedback, you can help shape decisions about police funding and how Thames Valley Police can continue to work to keep us all safe.
On 16 December, the Home Office announced the funding settlement for police forces across the country for the next financial year. In Thames Valley, this means an additional £15.5m in Government grant to pay for a further increase of 244 police officers (including 13 for the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit, SEROCU) next year. The increase in officers is part of the national uplift programme that will see 20,000 additional officers across the country by March 2023. In the Thames Valley, we have already seen the positive effects of recruitment with more police officers than a decade ago and, in addition to the Home Office funded recruitment, I am seeking to fund additional future growth to ensure that police officer numbers increase in-line with our population.
Despite the increase in funding from government, there continue to be cost pressures on the Force, and the public rightly expect to see improving performance in order to keep us all safe and bring criminals to justice. Alongside the funding from the Home Office, the Government has also allowed Police & Crime Commissioners to increase council tax by up to £10 (for a Band D property) in order to make additional investments in policing. This monetary increase is called a precept. There are eight council tax bands but nationally Band D properties are used as the benchmark. In Thames Valley, that means that for less than 20p a week for the average household, more than £9m could be invested in frontline policing.
In previous years, the support of local tax payers through their council tax has meant that we have managed to reduce the time it takes for the police to answer non-urgent 101 calls; to significantly increase detection rates, meaning that more victims of crime receive justice and more criminals are held to account; and creating a dedicated rural crime taskforce.
It is important that if there is any increase in council tax now, at a time when many families are struggling and costs are rising, it is focussed on frontline policing to tackle the concerns of the public. I am proud of the work done by Thames Valley Police Officers, PCSOs, staff and volunteers every single day, but with more investment, there is more that could be done.
Final decisions on council tax and budget priorities will be made at the end of January, and by contributing your views now you can help play your part in shaping how Thames Valley Police continues to improve and tackle crime across our community.
You can complete the survey via this link Council Tax Survey 2022/23 (alchemer.eu)
It is open for your feedback until 5pm on Tuesday 18 January 2022.