Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Ellis, has today asked the Government to consider removing or raising the cap on the level of council tax determined by PCCs in order to bolster policing at the most local level.
‘I’ve not called on Government for any more funding for policing since being elected in November 2012. I’ve coped with budget reductions and taken the view that what was already there could be spent better. My office has worked closely with Staffordshire Police to achieve better use of the money which is why here, neighbourhood policing numbers were 434 in 2013 and are 440 now with no change to response officers,’ he said.
‘However, the world we are now living in, especially post the Manchester and London terrorist attacks, means it is not credible that current budgets can maintain the increased levels of police resources required for what is likely to be a long period in Staffordshire, and I’m sure elsewhere.
Mr Ellis has frozen the council tax people pay locally towards policing in Staffordshire for 4 years out of his 5 years in office, but believes removing the cap now could help immensely in the current debate around boosting police resourcing at the most local level.
He wants to see the current cap of 2 per cent on the policing part of the council tax scrapped or at least increased because of the current environment and threats.
‘Government I’m sure will review the wider counter terrorism resources on a national basis, however, locally elected PCCs are accountable to their electorate meaning we are best placed to know the needs of our specific areas and be directly accountable for the funding decisions we make. That was the whole principle around PCCs, said Mr Ellis.
‘I froze the amount people paid in council tax towards policing every year in Staffordshire until this year, when the need to ensure new threats were met head on, meant I made a decision to increase.
‘I have written to the Home Secretary today to suggest she considers this proposal around local funding for policing. It is for local Chief Constables to determine what resources are needed and I’m sure most Commissioners will have no issue with being accountable for the budget decisions they make.’
Mr Ellis also emphasised this would also bring local accountability for the level of reserves held which varies across the country.
‘Where Police and Crime Commissioners still hold large reserves, these could be utilised ahead of making extra increase to council tax and that can be done in a more transparent way.’
‘This is an option still open to many PCCs now, as there can be little doubt we’ve reached that rainy day. But we also need that added flexibility to increase the precept.’