Police and Crime Commissioner embarks on consultation over funding shortfall and police precept

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Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Keane, is launching a new countywide consultation on Cheshire's police precept from Monday, 8th January, the results of which could have significant ramifications for the force's future.

Mr Keane is leading the consultation on the police precept – a key component of homeowners' annual council tax bills – and will visit communities across the region to gauge the views of residents and businesses on potential police precept increases.

The consultation, which will last for three weeks, will see the Commissioner visit a number of locations across the county (the locations and times will be announced in the next week). Alternatively, residents and business owners can have their say online from Monday, 8th January.

Crime Commissioner David Keane said "With inflation rising and public sector pay increases on the horizon, maintaining Government grant flat-cash funding for police services at the same levels for the next financial year means, in real terms, a cut of around five million pounds to the Cheshire police budget.

"This five million pound shortfall is equivalent to losing 100 police officers from Cheshire's communities, that's in addition to dealing with new and growing threats such as rising crime levels, cybercrime and terrorism.

"The consultation will set out the genuine funding pressures being faced by the force as a result of funding challenges since 2010 and a "woeful" flat cash settlement from Government for the next financial year, 2018-2019.

"The police budget in Cheshire has endured more than £60 million worth of government funding cuts since 2010, which means the force is spending 37% less on policing, in real terms, than it was eight years ago.

"Like many police forces across the country we have done all we can to deal with these financial challenges, and there are very few further efficiency savings that we can make to help find this money. There is now a danger that the already overstretched thin blue line will be at breaking point unless we act.

"And I've made sure that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has shouldered the burden too, getting rid of company cars and cutting top salaries to an affordable level. My office, which costs less than half of one percent of overall police spend, is the second lowest cost PCC in the Country, delivering excellent value for money, whilst ensuring every extra penny saved has gone into maintaining front line policing that we can be proud of.

"As a result of the woeful settlement from Government, to plug the funding gap and to support community policing, I need to consider the options we have as a community to raise money locally via the council tax precept."

The consultation launches online on Monday, 8th January 2018 and will run for three weeks.

Cheshire Police & Crime Commissioner


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

Terry Roeves
Monday 8th January 2018 at 6:38 am
A quotation re US police funding...... Downsizing is not in their DNA, she added: “Police departments, as long as they have the funds, they’re going to keep their force size the way it is or grow it, regardless of the crime rate. They can always adjust their statistics to make it look like they need the officers that they have.”

However some of our forces deal deal increasingly with drug addiction, mental health and alcohol addiction. Much should not have police involvement and it’s not free.
A previous justification for new recruits was cybercrime. Is it down in Cheshire now? Who knows? And remember the IT spends? An increase in productivity? Who knows?
Finally, government funding reductions also implies that the police were overfunded in the first place. Who knows?
Alan Brough
Monday 8th January 2018 at 8:44 am
I'm confused.

It was only a week or so ago that David Keane was telling us the outcome of the survey that he's about to conduct into public support for additional Police funding.

Tuesday 9th January 2018 at 3:40 pm
Alan - the PCC was "consulting with residents" in person in Runcorn yesterday. Wonder if he will "consult with residents in person" in Disley, Poynton, Wilmslow, Handforth and Knutsford?
Barry Buxton
Wednesday 10th January 2018 at 5:32 pm
The online feedback questions are far too simplistic to be meaningful and useful.
Alan Brough
Wednesday 10th January 2018 at 7:05 pm
@ Barry Buxton.

I agree - the questions are loaded and allow you to choose between two options for increasing our council tax and saving the Police Force as we know it, or not increasing our council tax and we all go to Hell in a hand cart!

Where's the very sensible option that would allow us to choose to disband the office of Police & Crime Commissioner and use the considerable amounts of money saved to bolster "Front Line" Policing?
Pete Taylor
Thursday 11th January 2018 at 5:54 am
A very flawed “consultation” which will provide the PCC with the answer he wanted.
When will he allow the Chief Constable to return to work? The “investigation” seems to be taking a remarkable amount of time.
Thursday 11th January 2018 at 9:25 am
Pete - the latest police and crime panel webcast can be found here

The PCC attended this time flanked by two officers from his department. Go straight to the "scrutiny" section on the webcast and you learn absolutely nothing.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 16th January 2018 at 8:40 am
Presumably this "consultation" was put together by a three year-old member of the PCC's family?
Tuesday 16th January 2018 at 11:49 am
Pete - I was shocked at the audacity of that "survey". Firstly, the statement that everyone will pay only an extra £1 a month, is, as I understand it, inaccurate. The Police Precept is linked to the Council Tax Band of your property. Surely the statement should be that those in Council Tax Band D will be paying an extra £1 a month and others will be paying more. Then in question 2 of the survey, is the statement that this will require a referendum in which context the government is plainly intended to be perceived as the villain. The phrase "imposed by the government" is unnecessary when all that was needed was "by law this would need a referendum". In question 3 the translation of the necessary saving into reduction in police numbers is a veiled threat when we are not told what other form savings might take. In summary, this is not so much a survey as a manifesto.
Nick Jones
Tuesday 16th January 2018 at 12:09 pm
Simply put as residents, we deserve better, Consultation? Quite the opposite... Imposition of a tyrants vision more like !.. Keane forcing his own opinion to achieve an unjustified further ‘cash grab’. The PCC Panel are ‘toothless’ bystanders in this charade to PCC empire building frivolity. How much does it cost [annually] to re-open and service Stockton Heath Police Station with its many minions, servants and services (£500k+ ?) How much has it cost to appoint unrequired deputy Dirir (£50k+?), then an unrequired chief of staff (£50k+?). Cllr Howard Murray chair of PCC panel criticised Keane's appointment of Dirir stating “The public have seen that webcast [of the confirmation hearing] and I can tell you, and you know this, you know the public have reacted very badly to that lack of transparency”… “It is the perception of your office, it is the perception of your integrity and your judgement. This worries us because you have such a fundamental part to play in the efficiency of the constabulary and the safety of the people of Cheshire”… “This panel has no power of veto over your appointee. You could indeed have appointed your mother, As long as that person was not a criminal and not insane or criminally insane then this panel would have approved them, because that’s what it says.” Cllr Damian Bailey stated the further appointment was ‘Inexcusable’, but this did not impede Keane's additional appointment of a further ex colleague. Tax payers / residents of Cheshire are ultimately ‘paying’ for this debacle. Keane is unchecked having already increased the policing precept by 1.9 % and spent the money on his empire, followed by CEC increasing its resident community charge tax by 4.0% and now looking for a further similar increase this year, quite clearly The PCC Role is one we are best served without.
As far as Cllr Murray’s astute observations go indicating Keane has “A fundamental part to play in the efficiency of the constabulary” ..Well, from what has been demonstrated to date it has been quite the opposite, as has Keane's “perception of [his] office... perception of [his] integrity and [his] judgement.”
Cheshire has just over 2000 officers, Lancashire 3000 for a considerably larger geographic area and Manchester 7000. Their representative PCC systems are neither as cumbersome or weighty as Keane’s empire. Cheshire could be effectively consumed by regionalisation at the efficient stroke of The Home Secretaries pen. It happened in 1974, it should happen again. This is not merely a Moral issue, it is evidence of further fiscal frittering of the public purse with continuing impunity, and no checks / balances / or sanction in place. Absolute disgrace !. So as Keane breaches his own standards set out in his governance document by being costly, unnecessary, ineffective and not supporting the police function for Cheshire residents.
Perhaps he should best abandon his empire, move back into the Force H/Q to justify his existence instead of making demands for more money ‘with menaces’ from tax payers..” Give me the money or else 100 cops have to go “Prudence and Austerity start with Keane, falling on his sword ! He is not needed in such a small county.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 16th January 2018 at 4:16 pm
There appears to be nothing to stop someone filling this "survey" as many times as they feel like.