Warwickshire police & crime commissioner ‘must show bang for public’s buck’ over max tax hike

Those in the lowest council tax bracket – Band A – will pay £8.67 more, while those in a Band H home will fork out an additional £26 to fund the county’s policing.
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War Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) has been told to demonstrate bang for the public’s buck after putting up council tax by the maximum amount allowed.

The county’s police and crime panel – a team of county, district and borough councillors supplemented by two non-elected members – unanimously approved PCC Philip Seccombe adding 4.7 per cent to the police precept for Warwickshire residents for 2024-25.

The precept is the part of your council tax bill that goes to fund Warwickshire Police and the increase amounts to £13 per year for what is considered an average – Band D – property, taking the bill up to £289.71.

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe.Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe.

If any more had been proposed, the PCC would have had to hold a referendum.

Those in the lowest council tax bracket – Band A – will pay £8.67 more, while those in a Band H home will fork out an additional £26.

The Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC), the administrative arm that supports Mr Seccombe in holding the police to account, said that public consultations showed “an overall desire to see police funding increased to some degree, albeit with the caveat that demonstrable improvements in the services received must be delivered”.

In presenting his proposed budget to the panel, Mr Seccombe detailed how external factors, mainly inflation, meant that £11 million more would be needed simply for the force to stand still.

The overall budget will not increase by that much with more than £1 million worth of efficiency savings earmarked alongside opportunities to increase income.

The council tax rise is set to bring in more than £3.3 million with Mr Seccombe promising visible improvements.

“The total budget will deliver – and I will make sure it does – improved engagement and visibility of Warwickshire Police," he said.

"An increase in proactive policing and prevention activity, improved victim care with a victim focus within investigation activity, an increase in the number of suspects brought to justice with dedicated resources focused on important crime types such as retail theft, vehicle crime and burglary, an extra focus on anti-social behaviour, which probably affects more of residents than any other crime, by police and partners and an improved health and wellbeing offer for officers and staff serving Warwickshire Police.”

Councillors were quick to query how that would be measured, including Councillor Margaret Bell (Con, Hartshill & Mancetter), who was standing in for a colleague.

“It seems that the public supports an increase in the precept as long as they witness tangible improvements. It is not tangible if there is not any data,” she said.

“You talk about the new operating model for policing, you quote increased detection rates, you talk about the 101 contacts being improved but we don’t have anything that says things have improved from here to here.

“It must be tangible and visible. For me, looking at this cold and coming in new, we don’t where we are without that data, there is no baseline.

“We need data and targets in order to show the general public that they are getting a better service.”

In rounding up the panel’s view, chair and independent member Andy Davis said: “I think we really want to see major improvement in productivity in terms of the things you have set out to deliver, and we want to see some of the outcomes from that in terms of productivity and efficiency.

“There was the point about KPIs (key performance indicators), working with the performance group to develop that small number to demonstrate impact when we come back this time next year.

“There is something in improving communications and the narrative generally about what success looks like and how it is being delivered by this increase in funding.”