Proposals by the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner to increase the council tax precept for policing have been supported by the Police and Crime Panel.
The proposals will see an increased precept of £12 per year for a Band D property, the maximum permitted by the government. Most properties in South Yorkshire are in lower bands where the increases will be £8 per year for a Band A and £9.33 for Band B.
The Commissioner’s decision follows consultations with the Police and Crime Panel, council leaders, local councillors and the public across each of the districts of Barnsley, Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster.
Public consultation has taken place for the past few months at public meetings, events and engagement days. Residents were asked if they would be willing to pay more council tax for policing and 80% said they would. However, it was clear that people expected to see a more visible police presence within local communities and improvements to the 101 service, including timely feedback on reported incidents and clear explanations of why an officer will not be attending an incident.
The Government Spending Review and Autumn Statement, published in December 2017, announced that South Yorkshire Police will receive central grant funding of £186.4m in 2018/19, which reflects central funding being maintained at the same level as last year, but only if the precept part of the council tax is increased by the maximum permitted of 7.6 per cent.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said: “Again this year the Government has not increased the amount of money it gives police and crime commissioners to provide policing and crime services, despite awarding the police a 2% pay increase. I have to raise the precept by the maximum amount in order to provide the same level of policing services as in previous years and to restore neighbourhood policing.
“Even so, to balance the books, the police service will still have to find further savings and we shall have to use some of our reserves.
“During the consultation process it has been clear that people do understand the difficulties we face in continuing to provide policing services against a backdrop of reductions in government funding but at the same time they expect to receive a good level of neighbourhood policing.
“The reintroduction of Neighbourhood Policing Teams that began in September last year will provide a locally based policing structure to address issues raised in the consultation.
“In addition, South Yorkshire Police will be introducing a new IT system for contacting them in March and this should both improve the 101 service, which has been a cause of frustration in recent years, and provide new ways of making contact.”
The proposals were put to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Public Accountability Board on 29 January and were then discussed and agreed by members of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel on Friday 2 February.