Precept Agreement Confirms Big Increases in Officer Numbers for Coming Year

Members of the Police and Crime Panel have today (Wednesday 3 February) unanimously approved the setting of the precept for policing and crime services proposed by Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

The precept is the money provided through council tax that contributes to the police budget. The approved increase will mean a substantial increase in police officer numbers for each of the Districts across South Yorkshire.

The budget is funded in part by an increase in the council tax precept for 2021/22 of seven per cent (about 20p on a Band A or B property) and in part by government grant.

Dr Alan Billings said: “If we are to get on top of crime, have a more visible police force and tackle anti-social behaviour, we need more officers. These proposals will deliver an additional 228. This builds on the extra 194 I was able to support this year.”

“One hundred and forty nine of the new officers are part of the government’s national uplift and 79 are from local resources.”

“The consultations I have undertaken have shown that the public supports the proposals with 67% accepting the increase in precept.”

The proposal was accepted unanimously by the Panel, which is made up of local councillors from each of the four South Yorkshire local authorities plus two independent members.

Cllr David Nevett, Chair of the Police and Crime Panel, said: “Whilst the increased grant from Government is welcomed, it doesn’t cover all force improvements and residents expectations to have a better service. Residents want an outstanding Police service, ‘bobbies on the beat’, visibility of hi-vis, well trained officers who serve the public, and officers who catch criminals who blight our communities.

“We recognise that we are in difficult times and appreciate the situation during the pandemic, and have taken into account residents views. From all the information we had, the Panel unanimously agreed to accept the proposal to fund the improvements residents expect, and pay for it.”

The increase is equivalent to a £15 per year increase for a Band D property. For Band A properties this equates to a weekly increase of 19 pence and for Band B properties an increase of 22 pence.  Most properties in South Yorkshire fall within Bands A and B.

Dr Billings’ 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.

The four District Council Leaders also supported the Commissioner’s proposal.

Dr Billings explained that whilst he recognises that residents face a difficult time due to the current pandemic which is presenting financial hardship for many families, there is also extra demand on policing.

“I recognise that there will be some families who will be in a difficult place financially next year, not least because of the impact of the coronavirus on jobs. But I also know that if we are to get on top of crime we need the additional officers.

“The public also tell me of their expectations around increasing the number of police officers in our neighbourhoods and within specialist departments to tackle and prevent crime.

“Over the next three years South Yorkshire Police will have recruited a total of 487 additional officers as our share of the 20,000 the government wants to see recruited nationally, plus a further 220 wholly from local resources.

“Whilst the Government will be providing some funding towards these officers in the form of the Government grant, PCC’s have been told that we have to contribute towards the cost of these extra officers by raising our council tax precept. Doing so will allow me to increase officer numbers, fight crime, support victims and keep the people of South Yorkshire safe.

“However, in order to balance the books, I will still have to ask the force to make substantial savings and I will have to use some of our reserves.

An online public consultation took place during December and January and received 2,160 responses, of which 67% said they would be willing to pay the maximum increase.

Respondents also indicated that they do expect to see a more visible police presence within local communities and they would like to see the Force focus on priority areas of tackling serious violence and gang activity and tackling neighbourhood crime – including anti-social behaviour, burglary and vehicle related criminality.

The police budget is made up of a Police Grant plus money raised from the council tax precept and other government grants.