Northumberland police chief's call over crime cash

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness wants to know how much people are prepared to pay to keep the streets safe.

By Tom Patterson
Friday, 7th January 2022, 4:06 pm
Updated Friday, 7th January 2022, 4:14 pm
Kim McGuinness, Police and Crime Commissioner.
Kim McGuinness, Police and Crime Commissioner.

Ms McGuinness has plans for more investigators, call handlers and technology projects over the next year – and is seeking investment through her precept consultation for 2022/23.

The precept is paid as part of people’s council tax bills and the PCC has launched a survey asking people who live in the force area how much they would be prepared to pay to help fight and prevent crime locally.

The commissioner says that, since 2010, “grossly unfair and regionally biased’ budget cuts mean Northumbria Police has taken the biggest financial hit of all the forces in England and Wales – losing more than 1,100 officers and £140m.

The Home Secretary has said all police forces can raise the precept by a maximum of £10 for an average (Band D) household – equating to an increase of 83p a month.

She is now seeking views on the various options at her disposal.

No increase, she says, would be the equivalent of a cut to the police budget, and the second option – a £5 annual increase – would not cover the extra investment needed to meet increased demands.

The third option, the 83p a month increase, would allow for what she says are “crucial investments” and help deliver on the priorities of the Fighting Crime, Preventing Crime Plan, due to be refreshed this spring.

Potential investment would include:

• Another 30 call handlers for 101 and 999 services;

• Extra resources specifically for the fight against cyber-crime and serious organised crime;

• More investigators to support investigations and free up police officers to help meet rising demands;

• Workforce investment.

Ms McGuinness said: “I’m more than aware that household budgets are tight, really I am, but I am also aware of the position our cash-strapped police forces find themselves in following year after year of cuts.

“Crime evolves, demand grows, but government funding fails to match what is a very clear need time and time again. Getting the funding right is so important when it comes to maintaining an efficient and effective police service and I want to make sure people have their say.”

She added: “Eyes, ears, boots on the ground. People want more of this, but it comes at a cost. Both Northumbria Police Chief Constable Winton Keenen and I know the importance of neighbourhood policing and making sure our frontline needs are properly resourced is a priority, but times are challenging and this can mean difficult decisions.

“I really don’t want to be putting a price on safety and I don’t believe we should be forced into a position where we have to rely on generating income through a police precept, but I think most people know that, like it or not, we can’t let things slip.

"This survey is about putting the options to local people and inviting them to have their say.”

To take part in the survey, go to https://bit.ly/NbriaPcpt2022