Posted: Friday 20th February 2015
Last week I met with the Police and Crime Panel to present them with my proposed budget for the next financial year. I was pleased that they overwhelmingly supported my plans and with it my proposal to increase the policing part of the council tax by 1.99%.
The decision to increase the police precept was carefully taken following a consultation which showed that on average people would support an increase up to 2.4%. A rise of 2% or would require a referendum and I wasn’t prepared to spend money on a referendum I’m convinced would be unsuccessful. The increase as it stands will add £3.41 a year to an average council tax bill. The increase will generate around £2m but we’ll still have to make £13m savings next year so asking people to pay a small amount more will make a big difference in helping keep people safe and feeling safe.
The Police and Crime Panel is an important part of the democratic process. Just as part of my role is to scrutinise the Constabulary, the Panel there to scrutinise me. It’s made up of councillors from each local authority area in Avon and Somerset plus three independent local people. They are there to support me in carrying out my duties; provide feedback on my plans, ask for reports on areas of interest and it is also there to investigate any complaints made against me.
I believe I have a good professional relationship with the panel; they are broadly supportive of the work I’m doing but they won’t hesitate in being my ‘critical friend’ by probing areas they are particularly interested in. The meetings – which are held six times a year – are open to the public and the minutes are published afterwards so it’s open to you if you want to come along and find out more. The Panel is administered by Bristol City Council and they publish details of future meetings and the associated documents.
At my next meeting with the Panel, on March 11th, I’ll be presenting them with a refreshed Police and Crime Plan for the next two years for their approval. It’s currently open for consultation and you have a chance to influence the plan by telling me what you want to see from your local police service. If you have an issue that’s important to you please write in and tell me – the plan will set out the Constabulary’s priorities and it must reflect what the communities want. After all, it’s your police service.
Until next time,
The draft Police and Crime Plan, along with how to respond to the consultation, can be found at www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk