Wiltshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner – Philip Wilkinson – has launched a survey to gauge public reaction to a proposal which could see the average police precept rise by up to £15 a year. This survey is open to all residents of the Wiltshire force area (including Swindon) until the end of January.
In the introduction to the survey the PCC, Mr Wilkinson explains the current financial situation being faced by the force.
He is responsible for ensuring Wiltshire Police has the necessary resources to fight and prevent crime. He holds the entire budget for policing in the county – made up of a grant from government and from the policing part of the precept contained within council tax.
An early indication of a 1% increase in the Government’s grant means that if the police precept stays at the current rate of £241.27 for a Band D property, Wiltshire Police would have to make £5.5m worth of savings. With the proposed increase of an average £1.25 a year, £3.1m savings and efficiencies would still have to be made.
Mr Wilkinson said: “As with everyone’s finances during this time, Wiltshire Police is facing increased financial pressures too.
“This comes at a time when we really need to be investing in our policing service to keep people safe and prevent crime but also ensure the necessary changes and improvements to bring the Force out of the HMIC Engage process.
“During the last year, communities have reinforced the need for more frontline police officers – and I agree with them. Using your precept support, we will have more visible policing.
“Working with the Chief Constable, and on his operational advice, we are aiming to deliver 40 additional police officers for neighbourhood and volume crime teams by the annual review of the current workforce mix. This means Wiltshire Police will better meet the needs of our communities.
“These additional officers will bolster the Force’s work in the community and in crime investigation and are in addition to the Uplift officers who are also coming through the recruitment and training pipeline into our communities, as well as those assigned to specialist roles and the rural crime team for example.”
“I understand any proposed increase, no matter how small, will be felt keenly,” Mr Wilkinson added. “And the decision to ask residents for support for an increase has been difficult and one that I would not make if there was an alternative.
“Wiltshire is currently one of the lowest-funded police forces in the UK and the county’s residents pay one of the lowest police precepts out of all the south west police forces – even with the proposed increases, this will remain.
“To ensure Wiltshire Police has the best possible financial position we have to consider utilising the increase in precept cap announced today, up to a maximum £15 a year and I will add this information in to my survey for residents to consider too. My financial team is currently working through this scenario and we have more information to support this in January.”
Click here to access the survey.