Police and Crime Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington, Joy Allen, has today launched a public survey asking local residents how much they are prepared to contribute towards policing in the force area through their council tax.
Urging people to give their views, the Commissioner is assuring respondents that she will take all opinions into account before making her final decision on the budget and the amount of council tax people pay towards policing.
Police and Crime Commissioners have responsibility for setting both their force budget and the inextricably linked police precept (the amount of council tax that goes towards policing).
Between 2010 and 2020, Durham lost 27%of its police strength as a result of Government budget cuts. This equated to a reduction of 408 officers.
Commissioner Allen said: “I am committed to rebuilding community policing and putting an extra 226 extra officers onto the streets of County Durham and Darlington by 2023. A small rise in the police precept will support these plans.
“The Government’s funding settlement assumes that PCCs in England and Wales will raise the council tax for policing by up to £10 per year for a band D property. In County Durham and Darlington this is less than 19p per week but as the majority of properties in the Force area are in bands A and B the cost would be less than this for the majority of residents.
“I recognise that many households are facing financial challenges at the moment, but I am equally aware that people want to see more officers on the streets, a return to real neighbourhood policing and a force equipped the resources to tackle serious criminality such as sexual violence and anti-social behaviour. I believe that we all want to be safe - and feel safe.
“That’s why it is so important that people give me their views on this. I assure residents that I will take their reactions into account as I set the budget. But I can only do that if they spare a few minutes to tell me what they feel is reasonable.”
Noting the disparity between the amount different forces receive from the Government, and the pressure this puts on council taxpayers, Commissioner Allen added: “The amount each force gets through the Police Grant from the Government varies greatly. I believe a better and fairer system should be introduced to level up police funding. I will therefore be lobbying the Government for a fairer settlement for Durham and Darlington in 2022 to return police officer strength back to 2010 levels.”
The survey opens today (3 January 2022) and will close at midnight on 24 January 2022
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