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Police council tax to rise by 1.99% as Commissioner blasts ‘unfair’ Government funding

Police council tax to rise by 1.99% as Commissioner blasts ‘unfair’ Government funding

🕔05.Mar 2015

West Midlands Police council tax bills will rise by 1.99 per cent – the highest increase allowed without having to gain approval through a referendum.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson approved the increase after the independent Police and Crime Panel raised no objection.

Mr Jamieson said additional money from the increase plus “careful use of the reserves” would allow the recruitment of 450 new police officers to continue.

He hit out at an “unfair” system of distributing Government grant to police forces which he said had hit the West Midlands the hardest. Mr Jamieson said:

We are hit doubly hard because the West Midlands is taking the second lowest contribution from local tax payers in the country.

That means we are more reliant on Government funding, and so a flat rate cut to the central grant hurts us more than places with higher precepts.

While the Government provides 86 per cent of the West Midlands Police budget, for some forces this is as low as 49 per cent. For example, cuts in government funding mean Surrey Police’s budget will fall by just 12 per cent, but West Midlands Police will lose 22 per cent.

Given that our crime rates are higher, with more serious threats to the community, this simply isn’t fair.

The West Midlands’ position is worsened by the Government’s unfair decision not to give us the full amount of funding that their own formula says we need. This year, West Midlands Police will receive £43 million less than their formula says we require.

More than 2,700 jobs, including 1,100 officer posts, will have disappeared between 2010 and 2016 to save £126 million as the force responds to cuts in Government grant.

In November last year the force confirmed that 27 of its 41 police station front desks were to close, putting about 90 jobs at risk.

Ten front office counters will remain in operation. Four desks run by volunteers will also remain open. The 27 closures, over the next year, will save £3 million.

Mr Jamieson is asking voluntary groups and agencies that help local people who have been victims of crime or anti-social behaviour to get in touch as part of a major project to better understand victims’ services that exist in the West Midlands.

He is keen to hear about how groups help victims of crime or anti-social behaviour and how that support helps people cope with their experiences. The people that groups support do not have to have reported their crime to the police, can be of any age group and ethnicity and can have experienced any crime type or anti-social behaviour.

To better understand victims’ services in the West Midlands the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner will be ‘mapping’ all services that exist in the region so that they can put together a full picture of services in the region.

Mr Jamieson said:

I want to find out more about the services that voluntary groups and agencies offer in the West Midlands so I can work out if there are any gaps in the service. I want to ensure that victims of crime in the West Midlands get the best possible support.

Anyone working for a local voluntary group that supports victims of crime or anti-social behaviour in the West Midlands who would like to be included in the mapping process should contact the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office on 0121 626 6060.

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