The amount of Council Tax the public pay for the police service, known as the police precept, will increase for 2021-22 by 7% in County Durham and Darlington. This equates to an increase of £15 per year, or 29p a week for a Band D property.
Acting Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, Steve White presented his proposal, along with his rationale for the increase, to the Police and Crime Panel this morning, supported by a presentation with key facts and figures on current and future financial pressures for Durham Constabulary.
Following discussion, an overwhelming majority of the Panel voted in support of Mr White’s recommendation.
In December 2020 the Government announced the funding allocation and the cap on the increase which Police and Crime Commissioners can add to the precept. The cap permits an increase of up to £15 per year for a Band D property. Following a consultation exercise last month, over 1000 people responded and over 50% were in favour of an increase.
Additional police staff will be employed as result of the rise, whilst also bringing forward the recruitment of PCSO’s by six months to ensure that a local policing presence is maintained.
The recruitment will include additional police staff to assist in helping the most vulnerable in the community, with further support in management of domestic abuse cases as well as those with mental health concerns.
The increase in precept will enable the force to invest in technology infrastructure, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of police procedures, so that officers can continue to deliver support to communities and businesses.
The force will now be able to continue to invest and educate residents regarding the emerging and growing types of crime, including cyber-crime which is becoming more prevalent.
Steve White, Acting Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner said “An increase in precept should not be taken lightly and I understand the difficult financial circumstances local communities are facing during the pandemic.
“My guiding principle is to ensure we have an effective and efficient police force for the people of County Durham and Darlington and maintain the highest standard of policing with more officers on the streets protecting the community. Policing will also be critical within all partners’ efforts in recovering from the economic shock resulting from the Covid pandemic.
“This increase will allow the Force to bring forward the recruitment of additional and experienced police officers as well as accelerate the recruitment of PCSO’s to ensure visibility within the community.
“The rise in precept will enable more investment in technology that will provide greater access, visibility and proactivity by the officers and staff who serve you. Investment will be made to provide support to those suffering hidden high harm due to domestic abuse, those experiencing mental health crises, as well as cyber-crime and also ensuring the force control room is sufficiently resourced to meet demand from 999 and 101 calls”.
Cllr Lucy Hovvels MBE, chair of the Durham Police and Crime Panel, said: “The panel has approved the Acting PCVC’s precept proposal and supports the planned investment required to deliver an efficient and effective police service to residents of County Durham and Darlington.
“The panel members understand the current financial pressures experienced by communities and, in order to hold the PCVC to account, we will receive progress reports from the Office of the PCVC on the delivery of these investment proposals.”