Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner has welcomed a Government announcement that could see an additional £9m coming into the county to pay for extra frontline policing.
The Government released details yesterday of a new funding package which would mean the Northamptonshire force budget jumps from £126m to £135.2m in 2019-20.
Figures include extra money that may come out of the pockets of Northamptonshire taxpayers if police and crime commissioner Stephen Mold decides to ask for the full additional £24 that commissioners can now levy on a Band D property resident.
In a statement released by his office yesterday Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “I welcome the Government’s announcement that the funding available for policing will be increasing. I look forward to seeing the details and understanding what this will mean for us in Northamptonshire.
“I have said many times that Northamptonshire does not receive a fair level of funding through the central government grant and while I welcome the increase announced today, it gives money for the coming year and I am working with the Home Office and with other forces on the Comprehensive Spending Review to further press for a new funding formula that is fair to all.
“I am committed to making Northamptonshire safer and ensuring our police have the resources to do that. I will be looking carefully at today’s settlement so that I can prepare a draft budget and understand how much I will need to ask the people of Northamptonshire to contribute through their council tax.”
The commissioner, who has been in post since May 2016, is currently consulting on a council tax increase for police services.
Speaking at the police and crime panel yesterday (Dec13) after the funding news was released the commissioner said he would only raise precept levels if he was confident it would make a difference.
The role of the police and crime panel, which is made up mostly of nominated councillors from Northamptonshire’s county districts and borough councils, is to hold the commissioner to account.
Daventry councillor Richard Auger, who is a former police officer, took the commissioner to task on his statement that he was unsure how many additional officers were needed in Northamptonshire. The force currently has 2,088 policing staff.
Clrr Auger said: “I find it difficult to understand. We can stick object on Mars. To think there is not sufficient intellect within the force or the university to work out a rough formula to work out how many we need. My head does not understand that. What are we petitioning government for?
“I can’t believe we have not got a rough figure based on priorities at the moment?”
Commissioner Mold said it was hard to predict what would happen in the county and used the recent example in which a person sparked a bomb scare in Wellingborough by putting their fancy dress costume which included a fake device in the bin.
The police and crime commissioner’s finance director Helen King said the Government announcement had included some good news about police pensions with more funds coming from Government to cover increasing costs. Commissioner Mold said the Northamptonshire Force currently spends £11m each year of its £126m budget on pensions for retired staff.
The Northamptonshire force is rated as requires improvement and this summer had a new chief constable, Nick Adderley, take charge.
A Home Office spokesman said: “This is a significant settlement that provides the most substantial police funding increase since 2010, which will result in up to £970m in additional resources for policing in 2019-20, including funding raised through council tax.
“This settlement will help police forces to meet the financial pressures they face next year, while also providing additional money for recruitment and neighbourhood policing, counter-terrorism, and fighting serious and organised crime.
“Northamptonshire Police funding will increase by around £9.2m next year if the Police and Crime Commissioner uses their full council tax flexibility.”