A posting that appeared on a St Ives social media site attempted to shed light on what could be the PCC’s thoughts on raising our rates bill to pay for additional policing in St Ives. An issue we touched on in The Riverporter issue 26.
The author of the piece suggested that that the commissioner was trying to manipulate the funding via an article that appeared earlier this month where he sought to survey people for their views on what they are prepared to pay for our town policing.
In the article the PCC asked for an increase of £24 a year for the police. It appears we had a choice…
We could face increases of £4, £24 or £120 per year (a zero increase was not an option given),however the social media post pointed out that the PCC cannot request more than the £24 increase without having to resort to an
expensive public referendum.
It went on to say… If we opt for the cheapest £4 increase, in his survey Mr Ablewhite says there’ll be a loss of 80 police officers due to ‘unavoidable increases in costs, e.g. insurance’.
By the PCC’s calculations £4 would be a 2% increase in funding and with inflation currently running at 2% the article wondered how an inflation matching increase could mean a loss of 80 officers, effectively 8% of the front-line force?
Result of the survey As The Riverporter was going to press the PCC’s office issued the following press release.
Public support helps to increase Police Officer numbers in Cambridgeshire for the second year running
It went on to say . . . 2,030 people responded to the survey. The result was that 61% said they were prepared
to pay an extra £2 a month for policing, 23% were prepared to pay a bigger increase of £10 a month, while 15% said they would not want to pay any more. 700 people also provided comments. (Incidentally we could not find details of the responses given to the PCC’s questionnaire or the 700 comments).
PCC Jason Ablewhite said ‘It is important that I listen to people’s opinions when making key decisions. Demand on policing continues to grow and whilst Cambridgeshire is a safe county, police now have to spend more time tackling ‘hidden crimes’ such as domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation, modern day slavery and helping those in
mental health crisis. All of which stretches resources and added to that our county’s population is set to rise by 20% by 2031.
A clear theme amongst respondents was that people were prepared to pay more if the money was spent on neighbourhood policing. Mr Ablewhite continued . . . ‘I can give my assurance that the additional money raised through this year’s council tax will be used to recruit 50 new warranted officers. ‘
The results of the survey were presented to the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel on Wednesday (see picture) who supported the proposal for an increase of £2 per month.
What questions remain?
In speaking with town residents, The Riverporter has sensed considerable local support for improving our town policing. Recent spates of bag snatching and anti-social behaviour certainly focus attention on our very meagre police presence. With last years additional money for an extra 50 officers and Mr Ablewhite’s assurance that
this year’s council tax will be used to recruit 50 more, one hopes that we will now see officers in St Ives, particularly as the demand for neighbourhood policing has been accepted. With our town meeting now set for next month, residents should perhaps consider what questions they may wish to put before the PCC who we understand has said he will be present at the meeting.