Funding an Effective Police Service
The national police funding settlement is a good one, with an additional £450m announced yesterday. This recognises increased pressure on the police combating issues like domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation and modern slavery – and above all terrorism.
Police Minister Nick Hurd listened carefully to police and MPs’ concerns, not least by visiting Gloucestershire. I’ve discussed our policing challenges with him, and these are reflected in the sensible funding arrangements. It’s also worth noting that our police reserves are the fifth highest in the country at £25m, almost 50% higher than the average force. We should use part of this.
Locally our Police do a great job (and are rated ‘good’ by the HM Inspectorate). Crime has increased in the last year after five years of consecutive falls, but it’s still down sharply in comparison to 2010. That’s despite new types of crime to report (stalking, for example, wasn’t a criminal offence until 2010).
Our police will get the same core funding from government as last year, but the local precept will rise by 5.6% to cover the police pay increases, inflation and still provide an additional £1.7m for neighbourhood policing and other local plans. So funding in our city and county is going up.
I am very keen that any local plans include the re-opening of the Quedgeley Police Station as the population there, about 15,000 now, definitely deserves its own presence. Local Councillors are supportive too.
The police presence in the city centre is vital too, and I have made it clear there must be no return to trying to police the city centre from Barton Street. Our great centre team under Sgt Matt Puttock (pictured) have good relationships with many local businesses in tackling shoplifting and anti-social behaviour (ASB). ASB makes up nearly 40% of crime reported in the city centre, and so I also pay tribute to the good work done by our PCSOs on this. They’re bolstered now by the City Protection Officers, who report to former Supt Rich Burge and are sponsored by the Business Improvement District (BID).
This is a good example of the community working together, focusing police resources on the most serious crimes, but not ignoring anti social behaviour which is frustrating for every community.
In turn that enables the Gloucestershire Police to focus on the most serious crimes like knife crime and drugs. These twin issues are often linked and we still await the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Knife Crime Strategy Proposals, promised after the Knife Crime Summit, which many of us contributed to last Spring. It’s time for a draft to be circulated so that there is no danger of this going into the long grass.
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