Posted: Friday 19th January 2018
Over the past year, I have been lobbying hard for the best possible funding arrangements for policing. In December, the Government agreed to provide flat cash to local forces as last year. The Government made it clear, however, that the increasing proportion of policing costs will have to be met by local council taxpayers, and so they have allowed PCCs to raise the amount you pay through the police part of the council tax.
Last week I spent time talking and listening to residents at The Galleries shopping centre as I embarked on a day visiting various places across Avon and Somerset to discuss the policing part of the council tax. While 82% of people did support paying £1 a month more to support policing, I heard from residents who told me that they couldn’t afford it; that the think the Government should pay for policing in full or that they think the NHS and social care should be prioritised. It’s a tough time for households and I do not take these decisions lightly.
On February 1, I will present the police budget to the Police and Crime Panel and explain to panel members that I would like to take the Government’s council tax increase. The increase means that Avon and Somerset Constabulary can protect neighbourhood policing and an additional £7 million would be raised although we still have to find savings of over £4 million for next year alone. This will have a significant impact on the Constabulary’s ability to continue to meet the growing threat and harm that we face from complex, sensitive and serious crimes.
This week a group of former prostitutes have taken a ground-breaking legal challenge to the high court, arguing that government policy criminalises victims of abuse and trafficking. The women argue they have been stigmatised by the existing law, which requires people convicted of crimes to disclose their past when applying for a range of jobs or volunteering.
Lawyers representing the women argue that they are vulnerable victims of trafficking and grooming, and that the requirement to disclose past convictions is at odds with government anti-trafficking policy. This will be an interesting case and shows some of the complexities and vulnerabilities within our society. One person who knows this well is PC Tina Newman based at Trinity Road police station. I was delighted to see that Tina was awarded with the Queen’s Police Medal in the New Year’s Honours List for her work as the Constabulary’s Sex Work Liaison Officer. Tina says that she is proud that the Constabulary now see women as vulnerable victims and with true partnership work they can get the support they need, often helped by the excellent One25 charity, which helps women break free from street sex work.
There are some incredible men and women working within Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Tina was one of four people recognised in the New Year’s Honours List including the Chief Constable who was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal; former Chief Inspector Norman Pascal OBE for services to diversity in the community and police chaplain Adrian Prior-Sankey was awarded an MBE. It is always important to take the time to recognise the unsung heroes in policing and I would call on you to nominate exceptional officers and staff in the Be Proud Awards at www.beproudawards.com. Nominations close on January 27.