Agenda item

Police and Crime Commissioner - 2021/22 Precept

To consider a paper outlining the Police and Crime Commissioner’s proposed precept for 2021/22, and supporting financial information.


The Commissioner introduced his proposed precept for 2021/22, which recommended a proposed increase of £15 per month for Band D properties.


In setting the budget and precept, Members heard that the Commissioner had

considered the operational context from the Chief Constable, immediate financial demands and the needs of communities and partners. The Commissioner had also given regard to the direction of national government and the ability of Hampshire to work within that context.


A question was raised by the Panel in advance of the meeting regarding affordability for residents and the justifications for an increase to the precept when the force had been regarded as well performing and value for money by the inspectorate. The Commissioner explained that the financial impact of the pandemic both upon residents and on public funds was of key consideration, with a number of precept scenarios modelled, to determine which would deliver the greatest value to residents and communities across the policing area. Outlined within the proposed budget was support to enable more officers to join the force more quickly as part of the central government uplift programme, expanding the Safer Streets initiative to Basingstoke and Portsmouth and investment in tackling rural crime. Also noted was the underfunding of the Constabulary through the Police Funding Formula, with the Commissioner continuing to lobby central government for a fairer funding formula.


Members heard that the proposed increase had been supported by both officer and staff representative organisations, as well as receiving endorsement from the Chief Constable and public consultation showing majority support for the proposal presented.


The Chief Constable was invited by the Commissioner to provide Members with an operational context for the budget. Members heard that:


·         The unacceptable behaviours identified within the Serious and Organised Crime Unit had been raised through the Constabulary’s Whistleblowing Policy and had been dealt with swiftly following the report. The Chief Constable was clear that in response to any such situations the Constabulary would be decisive and take appropriate action. The Chief Constable welcomed the opportunity to work with the Panel’s Equality and Diversity Working Group in this regard.

·         The Constabulary was a good organisation with highly performing officers and staff but more were needed to meet demand and deliver better outcomes for the residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The budget proposed would enable the Constabulary to take the fight to criminals and the Chief Constable’s professional view was that supporting an increase any lower, than that proposed, would conflict with operational evidence. The Chief Constable was confident that the difference the budget would bring to communities would be felt and would be tangible.

·         The Panel’s scrutiny of the budget was welcomed as part of the process in enabling every public pound to be spent wisely.

·         New pressures had arisen following the outbreak of the pandemic. The force had worked hard to keep residents safe through challenging times and with changes to ways of working including the introduction of Covid compliance patrols There had been a 50% increase in the level of children at risk referrals following the first national lockdown, alongside a 50% increase in the volume of work undertaken by the Child Abuse Internet Team. Elder abuse and fraud had increased and domestic abuse reports had grown significantly nationwide. Court backlogs, driven by the pandemic, had a significant impact on victims and witnesses with increased resourcing needed to meet the required standards of victim and witness care.

·         Central government uplift funding would enable the recruitment of an additional 146 police officers in 2021/22 as well as a further 7 to join the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU). Members heard these would be an increase to the existing establishment and these figures represented new roles, not replacement for any in-year attrition. The proposed precept would allow the force to bring forward a further 50 officers from the year three allocation of uplift officers and enable all new officers to be properly trained and equipped. In addition the budget enabled Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) to be maintained at current numbers.

·         Officer and staff wellbeing throughout the pandemic and beyond was core to the delivery of an effective service and further investment was planned for the wellbeing programme, which had already cut officer sickness levels by 6000 days.

·         The budget outlined a number of enhanced operational targets, including the arrest of 300 more of the most dangerous criminals targeting residents and communities, including those running county drug lines, and enhanced approaches to tackle drug related crime. Members heard that Operation Monument had already successfully removed £1000's worth of drugs and weapons off the street and had helped vulnerable people impacted by these crimes.           


The Commissioner then presented further information on the proposed precept. Members heard that:


·         Public consultation undertaken regarding the proposed precept demonstrated a majority support for the increase. Very few responses from residents were uncertain, with most giving a strong view for or against.

·         The Commissioner and his team had met with the Finance Working Group throughout the preparation for the precept proposal, their input and scrutiny had been welcomed, including their ongoing review of the Commissioner’s reserve profile.


Members heard an update from the Chairman of the Finance Working Group on activity undertaken by the working group on the lead into the precept setting. It was heard that the working group had reviewed proposed scenarios for the budget and precept level as they were being developed and two Members of the working group had observed the online public consultation events. It was recognised that the response to the public consultation had been the highest to date and that the PCC had undertaken a higher level of public engagement around the precept increase than seen in other PCC areas. The working group had been satisfied in their scrutiny of the process undertaken to set the proposed budget and precept, but had raised concerns over the question of affordability at each stage.


The Chairman reminded Members that the proposal being considered was that the Police and Crime Panel support the Police and Crime Commissioner’s proposed precept increase of £15 per annum for Band D properties, which was the equivalent of £1.25 per month, or 29p per week. The Chairman then moved to invite questions from Members. In response to questions it was heard that:


·         Affordability for residents was a key consideration from the very start of the budget analysis. The Commissioner was conscious of the economic impact of the pandemic upon residents, highlighting that the budget recognised a shortfall in council tax collections, for those households unable to meet the cost of council tax in the coming year as a result of financial hardship. Public consultation had suggested that there were many residents who could and would be willing to meet the additional cost of the precept to enable the police to do more and to fill gaps in service which would be left by only maintaining the status quo.

·         The Commissioner would monitor the outcomes of any increased funding through the precept to ensure evident improved visibility and support for local communities. A record of this would be passed onto the next PCC, providing them with the checks and controls needed to take this monitoring forward.

·         The Commissioner was clear that he would not make any decisions he himself would not be happy to receive and that plans were in place to enable an effective handover to the next PCC and enable continuity into the next PCC’s term. The refreshed Police and Crime Plan would run into 2022, and had been adapted to meet the changing environment created by the pandemic.

·         The Commissioner had undertaken more than 20 hours of personal engagement with the Chief Constable and pledged 100's of staff hours to ensure that the budget proposals would be focused on the priorities of local communities, alongside meeting operational policing demand.

·         Resources would be targeted where the risk of threat and harm was greatest, with proportionate responses to keep people safer, whilst ensuring a fair distribution across the force area.

·         During the pandemic the Commissioner had sought to enable police officers and staff to have everything possible to keep them safe whilst at work, including through appropriate use of reserves, and additionally had implemented a number of short £500 funding grant rounds to help the community mitigate impacts felt from the outbreak of Covid-19.

·         A data analyst had been recruited for the OPCC to specifically target information to those communities who don't regularly engage with the PCC and his office and who were noted to be under-represented in consultations. The most recent COMPASS session had a particular focus upon questions from the public and information to enhance the public’s understanding of the role of the Commissioner had been shared in easily accessible formats.

·         The Commissioner and his team would ensure residents had visibility of how their contributions through the precept would be spent, with communications throughout the year highlighting progress made.

·         The Commissioner and his team would continue to provide the Panel’s working groups with detailed information on the progress against Police Officer recruitment throughout the year. Uplift targets for 2021/21, as well as the additional recruitment to bring the Constabulary up to establishment, were well on track to deliver ahead of the end of the year, with some recruitment from year two brought forward.


Following questions, the Chairman moved to debate. Members discussed the precept proposal, noting that the spending outlined would protect the public from risk and harm and provide a real opportunity to enhance policing across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight . Members however expressed concern over monitoring the visible increase in officer numbers and the potential impact on residents in meeting the increased cost, with many financially impacted by the pandemic. The role of the Panel and it’s working groups was recognised in monitoring how the outcomes of the proposed budget, if agreed, were delivering value for money to the public. The Panel further identified a need for greater public awareness of the level of work being undertaken ‘behind the scenes’ and how this supported the delivery of effective policing.


The Chairman repeated the recommendation proposed which was to support the Commissioner’s proposed precept of £15 per annum for Band D properties, alongside the recommendations outlined in paragraphs 1.2 to 1.6 of the report.


A vote took place on the endorsement of the proposed increase to the policing precept, which was agreed unanimously by all Members present. The Chairman advised that the Panel’s working groups would monitor progress of the budget to identify how and when commitments pledged through the budget proposal would be delivered.




That the Police and Crime Panel (PCP) support the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) proposed precept increase of £15 per annum for Band D properties, which is the equivalent of £1.25 per month, or 29p per week.


The Panel note the recommendations from the Chief Constable to the PCC on her operational requirements for 2021/22 onwards, and her request that the PCC support a precept increase of £15 to enable the delivery of those requirements, as set out in Appendix A.


The Panel note that 61% of households across Hampshire and the IOW are in properties in council tax bands A-C (see paragraph 7.14), and would therefore see a precept increase of less than £15 per annum if the above recommendation is supported.


The Panel note that the full precept increase will be utilised in support of local policing.


The Panel note the proposals in this report which ensure that for 2021/22 there will be significant investment in policing within Hampshire Constabulary Policing area, including an increase in police officer numbers by 146 above the existing budgeted establishment as part of the second tranche of the Government’s commitment to increase police office numbers nationally by 20,000.


The Panel note that the PCC has undertaken a broad range of consultation over the course of the last year to determine the public support for a precept increase, and that the overall collective outcome of the consultation shows that there is majority support for a precept increase.


The Chair paused the meeting for a 10-minute comfort break, suspending the meeting from 12:20 to 12:30. Cllr Radley left the meeting at this point.


Supporting documents: