Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Matthew Barber, has launched an online survey seeking views on the budget for Thames Valley Police for 2022/23.
On 16 December, the Home Office announced the funding settlement for police forces across the country for the next financial year. In Thames Valley, this means an additional £15.5m in Government grant to pay for a further increase of 244 police officers (including 13 for the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit, SEROCU) next year. The increase in officers is part of the national uplift programme that will see 20,000 additional officers across the country by March 2023. In the Thames Valley, we have already seen the positive effects of recruitment with more police officers than a decade ago and, in addition to the Home Office funded recruitment, Police & Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, is seeking to fund additional future growth to ensure that police officer numbers increase in-line with our population.
Despite the increase in funding from government, there continue to be cost pressures on the Force, and the public rightly expect to see improving performance in order to keep us all safe and bring criminals to justice. Alongside the funding from the Home Office, the Government has also allowed Police & Crime Commissioners to increase council tax by up to £10 (for a Band D property) in order to make additional investments in policing. This monetary increase is called a precept. There are eight council tax bands but nationally Band D properties are used as the benchmark. In Thames Valley, that means that for less than 20p a week for the average household, more than £9m could be invested in frontline policing.
Launching the survey, Matthew Barber said: “As your Police and Crime Commissioner, I am committed to ensuring that your police precept is spent wisely and delivers best value for money. I am committed to ensuring effective spending across policing, to ensure we employ the maximum number of police officers possible. By giving us your feedback, you can help shape decisions about police funding and how Thames Valley Police can continue to work to keep us all safe.
“In previous years, the support of local tax payers through their council tax has meant that we have managed to reduce the time it takes for the police to answer non-urgent 101 calls; to significantly increase detection rates, meaning that more victims of crime receive justice and more criminals are held to account; and creating a dedicated rural crime taskforce.
“It is important that if there is any increase in council tax now, at a time when many families are struggling and costs are rising, it is focussed on frontline policing to tackle the concerns of the public. I am proud of the work done by Thames Valley Police Officers, PCSOs, staff and volunteers every single day, but with more investment, there is more that could be done.”
Earlier this year, Matthew published his Police & Criminal Justice Plan which sets out the following priorities for Thames Valley Police:
- Strong local policing – recruiting more police officers, supporting neighbourhood policing teams and focussing on local crimes such as vehicle crime, burglaries and anti-social behaviour. Ensuring that we protect victims of domestic abuse and ensure that everyone can feel safe on our streets
- Fighting organised crime – tackling county-lines drugs gangs that exploit young people and drive serious violence in our communities
- Tackling cyber crime and fraud – ensuring that the police and other agencies are equipped to protect you and your family from scams and fraud
- Improving the criminal justice system – bringing more criminals to justice, bringing more cases of domestic abuse, sexual assault and rapes to court and reducing reoffending
- Tackling illegal encampments – ensuring the police and local authorities take a firm but fair approach
Matthew added: “Final decisions on council tax and budget priorities will be made at the end of January, and by contributing your views now you can help play your part in shaping how Thames Valley Police continues to improve and tackle crime across our communities.”