Residents of the Devon and Cornwall Police area are being asked if they support plans to open more Police Enquiry Offices and deal robustly with drug dealers as the force’s Police and Crime Commissioner sets the budget for the next financial year.
The Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, used investment from the policing element of council tax (the precept) to create a 2022/23 budget that enabled Devon and Cornwall Police to hit record officer numbers and reopen six ‘front desks’ across the force area.
She also worked with other Commissioners on Operation Scorpion a police crackdown on drug dealers and users around the South West.
The Commissioner will now decide the level at which to set the precept for 2023/24 and is seeking residents’ views on policing as she does so. The Home Office announced this week (December 12) that Commissioners would be given additional flexibility that would enable them to raise the precept by £15 (for an average band D property) for the 2023/24 financial year without the need for a public vote on the issue (a precept referendum). The previously agreed rate had been £10.
An increase of £15 would take the annual precept for a band D household in Devon and Cornwall £261.56 (those living in band A-C properties would pay less and those in band E-H would pay more). For those who pay their bills monthly this would equate to an extra £1.50 a month over 10 months.
The Commissioner’s survey, which can be completed online or over the phone, asks the public to tell her how confident they are in police locally and nationally, to rank priority crime types, whether they are supportive of operations to target drug use and reopen more police stations to the public. It takes about five minutes to complete and results will be summarised in a report to the police and crime panel on January 27, 2023.
She said: “As Commissioner I represent the public’s voice in policing, so finding out what people think about their force helps me make one of my most important decisions of the year.
“The Government’s decision to allow increased flexibility in the precept this year is in recognition of the inflationary pressures and the increased cost of running police forces. My focus has been on strengthening, sustaining and stabilising the police so the force is fit to deliver on priorities laid out in the 2021-25 Police and Crime Plan of reducing antisocial behaviour, drugs crime and deaths and serious injuries on the roads.
“Investing in police means more officers to catch criminals and respond to calls for help, and more front desks open in our communities. We have to ensure that people are served by a force that is responsive to their needs and victims of crime have swift access to justice and the services they need to help them recover.
“I am, of course, mindful of the effects of those inflationary pressures have on households in Devon and Cornwall and that we must make every penny count towards creating a safer force area for all.”
People have until midnight on Monday, January 2, to take the survey which can be completed online at www.devonandcornwall-pcc.co.uk or by calling the Commissioner’s office on 01392 225555.