On Friday 8th February, the Police and Crime Panel voted to approve the Commissioner’s budget plans precept would raise an additional £15.2m for Devon and Cornwall Police (when surpluses and tax base increases are taken into account).
The Chief Constable has indicated that the uplift would allow him to create an additional beat officer for each of the 27 sectors in the force area, increase detectives by 30 to address serious offending and increase the number of officers in frontline response teams.
The renewed recruitment drive would bring force strength to 3,100 by the end of 2020, the highest level since 2012 and 186 officers higher than when Alison became Police and Crime Commissioner in 2016.
In total around 660 officers will have been recruited over four years to make up for those leaving the force.
This year’s budget will see the police precept for households in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly increase by 41p a week for a band C property with the total cost per household rising from £167.36 to 188.69.
The percentage of those supportive of the measure (54%) was significantly lower than the 71% of those who supported a similar proposal last year.
As a result Alison Hernandez said that she would continue to lobby Central Government for fairer funding for the Devon and Cornwall force particularly in the run up to the Compressive Spending Review later this year.
Currently Devon and Cornwall Police receive 26 pence per head of population compared to a national average of 33 pence.
At the meeting on Friday, members of the Police and Crime Panel also agreed to write to Government about the issue.
Speaking on Friday Alison said: “I am pleased that the police and crime panel has listened to the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, understood the challenges facing police and backed this budget. We are fortunate to live in one of the safest parts of the country and I want to keep it that way. It’s clear to me and the communities I speak to that part of the solution to that is recruiting more officers.
“Devon and Cornwall Police are dealing with an increase in recorded crime of 10%* and calls for assistance from police officers is rising.
“In addition there are a range of new threats from which we are not immune. Excellent work takes place every day of the week in counter terrorism – for example, there are currently 39 cases in in Devon and Cornwall where a potential threat has been identified and is being mitigated.
“With the increase in investment last year we were able to speed up force recruitment, introduce Body Worn Video and invest in innovative Blue Light officers who are now working across Devon and Cornwall.
“I am recommending a further investment in our force but do not do that lightly, this year people from some of our communities are less supportive of this approach than they were a year ago and I have heard those concerns.”
Results by council tax band
*Office of National Statistics - Recorded crime year to September 30, 2018