Police and Crime Panel approve PCC's budget proposals to protect Merseyside Police in the year ahead02.02.23 - Merseyside
- £2.4m of savings and extra £6.9m generated through police precept will help to balance the books
- A further £8.5m of reserves and one-off funding will be used to bridge the gap during 2023/24
- Merseyside Police is still 450 officers short of the number it had in 2010 and needs to find £16.3m savings by end of 2027/28
Merseyside’s Police and Crime Plan have approved the Police and Crime Commissioner's budget proposals to protect Merseyside Police in the year ahead, despite soaring costs and growing demand.
Despite still missing 450 officers, spiralling inflation and rising costs mean Merseyside Police will potentially need to find further savings of approximately £16m by the end of 2027/28.
The Government announced in December that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) would be expected to raise the police precept by £15 a year for a Band D property in 2023/24 to cover increasing costs in the year ahead. This equates to 19p a week for a Band A property – the rate paid by most council taxpayers in Merseyside.
This much-needed increase will generate a vital £6.9m of funding for local policing.
Even with this additional funding, the Police Commissioner will also need to use £8.5m of reserves and ‘one-off’ funding and the Chief Constable will have to make £2.4m of savings just to balance the books in the year ahead.
Despite the financial challenges, Merseyside Police continues to be graded as one of the best performing urban forces in the country and is assessed as ‘outstanding’ for its response to serious, organised crime. Firearms discharges are at a 21-year low, there have been significant reductions in robberies and burglaries and the force has responded to 8,000 more calls for service this year compared to last.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “With soaring costs and inflation, 450 missing officers and insufficient Government funding, Merseyside Police’s financial position continues to be extremely challenging.
“I have worked hard with the Chief Constable to produce a set of proposals that will balance next year’s budget and will also protect our police service in the year ahead.
“It hasn’t been an easy task.
“I am painfully aware of the pressure the cost-of-living crisis is putting on people in Merseyside. The last thing I wanted to do was to ask them to contribute extra to help support local policing, but my hands were tied by the Government who are set on pushing the burden of the police bill onto those who can least afford it - local taxpayers.
“However, if I don’t make this increase, Merseyside Police would be left with an even bigger shortfall, making cuts to service inevitable.
“My priority is to ensure Merseyside Police is in the strongest possible position to prevent and fight crime, protect the vulnerable and keep our communities safe. The last thing I would want is for us to go backwards and lose even more officers or staff, that would be disastrous for the region.
“Preventing and tackling crime cannot be delivered on the cheap. The responsibility for fully funding a big urban force like Merseyside lies squarely with central government and I will continue to lobby ministers, at every opportunity to give us the money we need.”
The Commissioner put her detailed budget plans to the Police and Crime Panel yesterday after a month-long consultation during which a representative sample of 1,200 people across Merseyside were asked for their views. A total of 49% of respondents said they would be happy to pay an extra 19p a week towards policing, with 26% saying they were unsure and 26% of people saying no to the increase.
The meeting was also attended by Merseyside Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley, who gave a detailed overview to Panel members of the demands and challenges facing the organisation, while also highlighting the dedication and professionalism of his workforce.
Now the Police and Crime Panel have approved the Commissioner’s plans, she will ask the region’s local authorities to implement the increase, which will come into effect from 1st April 2023.