The latest budget meeting with the Police And Crime Commissioner happened this week and the results are quite sobering. In his original manifesto, Martin Surl stated that we would not increase the precept this year, but then he didn’t know just what a drastic cut in the government grant he was going to get. Therefore to balance the books, he either has to make redundancies, stop recruitment or increase the precept. I am of the firm belief that the Police can not take any more cuts in manpower, be those direct, or through natural wastage, and the Chief Constable clearly agreed as she recommended a precept rise so she had the manpower to deliver effective policing. Labour supported her recommendation but this was crushed by the Tories on the panel.
An increase of 2% in the Police precept would raise £900k, the equivalent to the cost of around 18 new police officers, which is the same as the anticipated “natural wastage” expected over the next couple of years. The main grant that Gloucestershire Police Constabulary receives from the Government has been reduced from £57.1 million in 2014/15 to £54.2 million a cut of 5.1% (£2.9 m).
In times when the NHS has had to hit the “emergency button” because it can not fulfill its mandate, and with an appalling rise in knife crime and gang activity in our county, not to mention the desire of residents to see more police in our communities, not less, at just what point are we so stretched that we are not fit for purpose?