Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, has responded to the police grant settlement announced by the Home Secretary, the Right Hon Priti Patel. The Home Secretary says this will enable commissioners to increase police numbers.
The settlement provides the Police and Crime Commissioner with funding of £295.4 million for 2021-22, providing that he raises the precept by £15 on a Band D property in the coming year. The funding from the Home Office grant will be £220m and the rest will come from council tax.
Even so, this will not be enough to cover the full costs of the increase in police officer numbers and to maintain the existing service.
Dr Alan Billings said: “I welcome the chance to increase police numbers next year. However, we should recognise two things.
“First, what the government now gives is what it has previously taken away. For ten years from 2010 the number of police officers in the country was cut year on year by more than 20,000. In South Yorkshire we lost over 500 posts – and we saw a rise in serious violence. What is happening now is a partial restoration of those cuts.
“Second, the funding being given will not be enough to cover the full costs of the increase in numbers and to support the existing service.
“To pay for the extra officers, the government is freezing police pay and also ‘allowing’ police and crime commissioners to increase the policing precept through the council tax next year by £15pa on a Band D property. Most properties in South Yorkshire are in Bands A and B so the increase will be less, between £10 and £12.
“Even if council tax were increased, the police will still have to make significant savings to balance the books.
“It should be remembered that in South Yorkshire we had already started two years ago to increase police numbers using our own resources. Last year we set on 50 more officers, this year we added 73 and next year we add a further 79. By 2024 we shall have increased numbers by 220 altogether.”
Additional officers funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner
Officers to be funded by government grant and precept increase
*This is a best guess as the government is yet to say what South Yorkshire’s share of the 20,000 officers is.