The plans by the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, Alun Michael, to build and strengthen partnership approaches to tackling crime and community safety issues has been endorsed today.
The Police and Crime Panel today approved the Police and Crime Reduction Plan of Mr Michael for 2014-17, which focuses on working closely with the police, partners and the criminal justice sector to tackle crime and community safety issues across South Wales.
Mr Michael: “The Police and Crime Panel have today supported their commitment to my approach, which is based on being tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. I am very pleased that the Chief Constable and his team are working with me and my team to both develop the policing service in South Wales and to work with our partners to reduce crime and the environment which allows crime to flourish.”
As part of his plans, the Panel also approved Mr Michael’s proposed rise to the annual police precept of £9.06 for a Band D property, or a little over 17p extra per week, or just under 2 ½p per day, for a 24 hour, seven day a week police service.
Mr Michael said: “I welcome the decision of the Panel to confirm the annual police precept in South Wales as £190.34 for a Band D household. Setting the precept is not an easy job – it is about balancing the needs of the community, with those of the police. Any rise can be difficult for the public, and I have taken this into account. But, this increase has been forced upon us because of the savage funding cuts imposed by the Government in Westminster.”
Chief Constable of South Wales Police, Peter Vaughan, said: "I would like to thank the hard work of the Police and Crime Commissioner in helping to reach today's precept agreement. We have worked very closely together to meet the financial challenges, that all police forces are facing, and remain committed to reducing crime.
"It is pleasing that, despite the tough financial backdrop, we are continuing to improve our performance in areas such as victim satisfaction where we are one of the best performing forces in Wales and England.
"Crime is currently at a 30 year low and in terms of crime detections we are delivering some great results, such as being the best force in Wales and England at detecting dwelling burglaries.
"We will continue to build on this and work with and for the communities of South Wales to keep them safe."
Prior to the meeting, Mr Michael considered a number of options, ranging from a 3% rise of £5.43 per year to a 7% increase of £12.69 per year. The final decision to raise the precept level to £190.34, or a 5% rise, was taken following discussions with local authorities, partners and the Welsh Government.
Mr Michael continued: “I would have preferred to have gone for a 7% rise again this year, in order to counter the deficit South Wales Police are suffering. The difference between the chosen 5% rise and a 7% rise is just 1p per day for a Band D household…but the impact this would have made to our financial planning cannot be underestimated. However, I know this has been a difficult year for all public services, and the protection Local Authorities had from the Welsh Government last year is no longer available.
“Despite this increase, South Wales householders continue to pay the lowest for policing in Wales – more than £40 less than North Wales, for example.
“However, despite the increase, what cannot be underestimated is the difficult situation we continue to face as a result of the funding cuts.
“South Wales Police has already faced cuts of £26million between 2011 and 2014. We know face an additional £5.3million of cuts. These vicious and damaging cuts have never been before in British policing. It is imperative that the Home Office and Chancellor rethink their approach to the funding of the police service.
“Since the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010, this Government has reversed two decades of investment in the police service, and frankly this is disgraceful. What cannot be underestimated is the enormous contribution the Welsh Government has provided to community safety. Their input has significantly improved links with local communities, by funding for 206 additional Community Support Officers in South Wales alone.
The Police and Crime Panel have the responsibility to approve a proposed precept and budget for the Commissioner each year. Members of the panel have the ability to veto the precept, by a two thirds majority. The vote today saw a unanimous approval of the proposal.
Mr Michael concluded: “I realise that any increase in council tax is difficult for the public in South Wales. However, I have had to make the difficult decision in order to act responsibly and effectively protect and maintain a high quality police service in South Wales. This budget allows us to continue the downward pressure on crime and disorder, even in such difficult times.”
Posted on Monday 20th January 2014