POLICE and Crime Commissioner David Keane says he is committed to protecting frontline policing by placing a named officer or PCSO in every community in Cheshire.
It is part of plans set out by the Commissioner in the policing budget for 2018/19 for officers to have more visibility to tackle emerging and complex issues such as cybercrime, child sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
The Commissioner has also committed to providing more support to victims of crime to help them cope and recover from their ordeal.
Additional funding has been allocated to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) to help the service deal with increasing demand. The budget also earmarks funding for an Anti-Stalking Clinic, run in partnership with 5 Boroughs NHS Foundation Trust.
David said: “This is a budget that will enable the Acting Chief Constable to keep the residents of Cheshire safe and achieve the priorities of my Police and Crime Plan.
“Policing within our communities is becoming increasingly diverse and complex, which requires a more sophisticated response from officers.
“I have allocated funding to deal with these issues by re-directing officers to these priority areas. I have also committed to investing in intelligence gathering, training and crime recording to enable the Constabulary to respond to these important and emerging issues.”
The Commissioner has developed his budget following an “unprecedented” response from the public to his precept consultation, where local residents and businesses in Cheshire gave the Commissioner the mandate to raise the precept to help protect policing resources.
The Commissioner asked Cheshire’s tax-paying community how they would like to fund a £5 million shortfall in funding after a “woeful” flat cash settlement from central Government.
An overwhelming 77 per cent of respondents to the consultation supported a 7.3 per cent increase to the precept, which equates to £1 a month for the average Band D household.
“I am delighted that so many people have spoken – in unprecedented levels – and I have listened to their views when setting the budget. It is imperative that any decision on force funding to be truly reflective of feelings of residents and businesses in Cheshire.
“I am also pleased that Cheshire’s Police and Crime Panel has endorsed a rise to the precept to fund this budget,” David, added.
Describing the ongoing budget pressures on policing, the Commissioner, said: “Not only did we receive a woeful flat cash settlement from Government, but – simultaneously – they also released the previous cap on the police precept.
“To address the shortfall in funding, Government asked Commissioners up-and-down the country to consult with the public on a rise to the precept.
“It does not sit comfortable with me that the Government has provided no additional funding and that the burden has fallen upon the council taxpayer of Cheshire, whose household bills are already challenging with increasing prices and stagnant wages.
“The public did raise concerns through the consultation around a further increase to the precept, but they understood that it is necessary to provide the appropriate resources to keep Cheshire safe.”
Cheshire Constabulary has faced a 37% real term cut in funding since 2010. Both the Constabulary and the Commissioner have driven significant efficiencies in this period to meet the funding gap, saving £10 million by making service efficiencies.
The Commissioner, concluded: “We’ve done a huge amount to find ways to deal with the financial challenges we face – and I include myself in that, as my office costs are now the second lowest in the country. We have plans to make further savings to the spend on my office to ensure more of our limited resources can be invested into frontline policing.”