Barlow's Beef: Give us the money or else is not a discussion


David Keane the police and crime commissioner for Cheshire is urging residents to join the 'discussion on police funding. We have until Jan 24th to express our views on providing more funding via the police precept.

According to Mr Keane a one percent increase would mean a reduction in policing service and be equivalent to 13 fewer police while no increase would be the equivalent to 26 less officers.

A two per cent increase in police precept would mean investment in areas of policing residents said were important.

Not much of a choice is it? Give us more money or else and the 'or else' is always expressed as a reduction in police officers. It's the common unit of currency when asking for budget increases. Why?

Simply because the police commissioner knows it is the one thing the public do not want to see. It's the most potent threat.

Public services do that. Give us more money or face losing the most valued part of the service. There is an automatic assumption in the public sector that funding must grow every year to maintain services. It's beyond their comprehension that services may be improved on smaller budgets.

In the private sector competition prevents such assumptions and a product or service sold at a premium price may suddenly generate far less revenue. The Internet has transformed the way we work and the way we buy products and services. Companies have to adapt to the market.

In the public sector the market is expected to adapt to them. Demanding more for the same service only works in a monopoly situation.

Becoming smarter, more efficient, reviewing 'sick' leave, duplication and management performance is rarely at the top of the list of budget cut-backs.

Cheshire East regard increasing council tax as 'cost saving' while senior management at Cheshire Police believed sending police officers from Wilmslow over to Macclesfield to start their shift was efficient.

Can you imagine Tesco increasing all their prices to reduce costs? Sounds daft doesn't it? That's because it is and only the lack of competition in the public sector that enables them to view it otherwise.

Personally, I think Cheshire Police are doing a pretty good job, certainly far better than they did before community policing came back into fashion but before they talk about reducing officers they would do well to examine their internal inefficiencies starting at the top.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlows Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Manuel Golding
Tuesday 17th January 2017 at 11:28 am
Once again Vic, you are right. " 'ello, 'ello!! What's goin' on 'ere then?"
Wouldn't we just guess that it is the same old same. I am very supportive of our police force and wish them well but ...........
Any chief exec of a private company knows he must be always looking at keeping his overheads under tight control in order that his company continues to offer goods/services to its clientele. The other side to that coin is that his company will suffer on the open market and then there will be staff reductions, not the other way around.
The public services, including our constabulary, must look at ways of cost reduction in order that it continues with its services, not threatening its captured public with less or pay more.
There is a very serious flaw in our public service organisations' mentality.
Mr. Keane, first look at your organisation's cost structure, do not threaten your compliant public to get you out of your hole.
Mark Goldsmith
Tuesday 17th January 2017 at 5:54 pm
Funny how they always threaten to remove front line staff though.

But its never the 11 people the PCC needs to help him do his job though. For some reason these roles are always protected and deemed more essential than bobbies on the beat.

I wonder why?
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 18th January 2017 at 12:56 pm
Extra money last year was granted for cybercrime specialists, yet we have no confirmation of their success. Please MR KEANE let us all know.
Now it is more money please, or else .......
This really is poor direction and management of existing resources, unless somebody knows differently.
Not impressed at this juncture.
Barry Buxton
Wednesday 18th January 2017 at 4:47 pm
Couldn't agree more with Vic!!

There is always room for further improvement in cost-efficiency. Simply throwing more money at anything (including the NHS) is not usually the right answer.
John Clegg
Wednesday 18th January 2017 at 6:33 pm
It's not too dis-similar to the Royal Navy where the number of admirals and rear-admirals grows ever larger while the force numbers decline as do the number of ships in their command.
Jonathan Follows
Thursday 19th January 2017 at 3:00 pm
One thing I hadn't realised until today: any aspect of council tax (including the "police precept" on its own) can be increased by more than 2%, but only if a formal referendum is held to approve the increase. The likely cost of such a referendum (up to £0.5m?) is likely to be further disincentive, and probably means that it would only be incurred if the base council tax itself were to be increased by more than 2%.

Neither of these is proposed for Cheshire East, currently.

It would be interesting to surmise the likely outcome of any such referendum.

The "Localism Act" of 2011 introduces the referendum requirement, I think on the basis that previously there was a rigid cap which can now be exceeded but only if there is a local vote to approve it.