How much would you be prepared to pay for policing in North Wales?
How much would you be prepared to pay for policing across the region?
That is the question being asked by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Arfon Jones, who is calling on people to take part in survey to find out how much voters are prepared to pay for policing.
The online poll has been launched by Mr Jones as police across the country digest the news of how much the Home Office is providing towards their budget – about 50% of the total cost. The rest will come from Council Tax dependent on the precept local Police and Crime Commissioners ask for from councils.
In consultation with the North Wales Police and Crime Panel, Mr Jones will make the proposal on January 22 against the backdrop of news that the North Wales force was having a standstill grant imposed on it by the Home Office – which effectively meant a real terms cut in grant of £2.1 million.
The latest financial blow came on top of the 20% North Wales Police had been forced to axe from its budget since 2012.
Last year the precept was set at 3.79 per cent, the lowest increase in Wales, and amounted to just £9 a year or 17p a week, which is less than the cost of a piece of fruit.
But, as the financial squeeze continues, the commissioner has spelt out the difficulties that police chiefs face and warned that “policing is under great pressure from increased demands being placed upon it.”
The former police inspector said: “We do face a twin threat of increasingly diverse crime driven by the internet and tighter budgets.
“But first we have to arrive at a precept so we know how much money we have and, as last year, I will be asking the people of North Wales what they are prepared to pay for.
“In a democracy we have to trust people and last year the results of the survey showed that a majority, 63% of almost 1,000 who took part, were in favour of an increase of five percent or more.
“In the event we didn’t have to go that high but having that evidence of public support was very helpful when I had make my case for the Police and Crime Plan
Mr Jones added: “In calculating the right level of precept, I have to balance the need for financial prudence with my responsibility to ensure that North Wales Police is an effective and efficient force that is capable of delivering of my Police and Crime Plan.
“What we are seeing now is more and different forms of crime with cybercrime having grown so much that the thin blue line of policing is now on line rather than on the street.
“In addition we have the issues of modern slavery and domestic abuse and we need to ensure that victims are confident enough of being listened to, to come forward and report it.”
He added: “Policing is under great pressure from these increased demands being placed upon it. Despite these increased demands there remains uncertainty over what North Wales Police will receive in the years to come but the need to meet these spending challenges has to be balanced by the recognition that many people find it difficult to find even a small amount of additional money.
“My reserves are in a stable and healthy position, and therefore I have decided to increase council tax only in order to fund the coming year’s expenditure, and to deal with the effect of further reductions in government grant if and when this should occur.”
You can take part in the survey by clicking here.
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