More Derbyshire police officers to cost taxpayers extra £15 each

Thursday, February 4th, 2021 1:04pm

By Eddie Bisknell, Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

Taxpayers are set to give Derbyshire police £15 extra in the coming year in a bid to recruit 83 new officers, improve drones and build new police stations.

The extra police officers will partially bridge the gap in Derbyshire bobbies who have had to be cut since 2010 in government mandated budget cuts.

Derbyshire, even with 83 additional officers, taking its total to 1,918, would still be nearly 200 officers short of the 2,100 it had before austerity measures.

The force predicts it will still be 77 officers short of its 2010 officer numbers by 2024.

Derbyshire taxpayers in Band D properties are set to see their chunk of council tax set aside for the police increase by 6.62 per cent, to a total of £241.60 for the financial year 2021 to 2022.

The police precept is only around 10 per cent of the overall council tax bill, most of which, in excess of £1,000, goes to the county or city council, depending on whether you live in Derby or not.

Other portions go to the fire and rescue service, and for those outside of the city, district and borough councils and in some areas town and parish councils.

Its budget also sees the temporary employment of 20 further police community support officers (PCSOs), taking their numbers to 199.

There are also plans in the works to spend £12 million on a new police base in the north west of Derbyshire and £11 million in the north east of the county – “advanced discussions” over land acquisition are under way for both.

The bases are to prove the “constabulary’s commitment to policing this important part of the county, ultimately improving visibility and providing a secure basis from which to address future threat and risk”.

The overall police “estate” “continues to deteriorate” which is a “very real concern”, says Rachel Swann, police Chief Constable for Derbyshire.

Chief Constable Swann wrote in a letter, recommending a £15 Band D council tax hike, that she wants the force to be a “centre of excellence for technology innovation”.

This includes developing drones for use in all weather conditions and underwater search capabilities, along with the provision of doorbell cameras or victims of domestic abuse and “those whose life may be at risk”.

It also includes electric bikes for officers to use around the county – two of which are currently being trialled.

However, the police budget for the coming year also highlights financial difficulties in the years to come, with a £10 million deficit forecast by 2024 out of a budget of £224 million.

Chief constable Swann write: “It is expected that in subsequent years we will have to make unpalatable decisions as to which services are needed, rather than wanted, by our communities.

Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, wrote: “I have worked closely with the Chief Constable to understand what her needs are in terms of funding and what various levels of funding would mean in terms of supporting those who have worked selflessly to keep communities safe in the face of the pandemic.

“The budget we have pulled together is a consolidation budget that builds upon the work we started three years ago to rebuild policing after the cuts we had seen over 10 years and to get us to a position where we are able to respond to the demands placed upon the service.

“The year ahead is full of uncertainty because of the ongoing pandemic, but I didn’t want to set a budget that would mean cuts.

“We have come too far to start going backwards, but if the Government’s current trajectory of under-funding policing and other public services continues, we can’t rule out cuts in the medium term and that is something I want to avoid at all costs.”

He said key priorities for the coming year would be police visibility, speeding and tackling anti-social behaviour.

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