These regular meetings mean that my decisions and the spending of my office can be discussed and critiqued in a publicly accessible forum. The meetings are open to press and public, streamed live online and give people the chance to put questions to me.
The first meeting of the calendar year is an important one because it is at that meeting that the next year’s budget goes before panel members, who are elected local authority members from around Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The police budget is made up of two elements, a grant we receive from the Home Office and monies raised through the police precept on council tax bills. For a Band D property in the current financial year the police precept stands at £236.56, or £23.65 a month over 10 months for those who pay in monthly instalments.
My proposal is to put this up by £10 a year, so households in Band D properties will pay an extra £1 a month over those 10 months. I have not taken this decision lightly and know households are facing rises in costs of food, fuel and lots of other expenses.
Our safety and security though, must come first and we all require a police force that is able to keep us safe and respond to calls for help.
So what do people get in return for this investment? I have already written about how the 2022/23 budget will enable Devon and Cornwall Police to recruit more officers, taking the total number of police officers in the force area to 3,610, more than at any other time in its history.
But those of you interested enough to read the papers for Friday’s meeting – all are available on the Police and Crime Panel section of Plymouth City Council’s website – will note that my office has also detailed plans for spending to prevent crime from happening in the first place and to support victims when it does.
This Commissioning Intentions Plan describes how a total budget of almost £8m is made up of a grant from the Ministry of Justice, revenues from my office and the budget for the Serious Violence Prevention Partnership I wrote about a fortnight ago.
The plan aligns spending to the Police and Crime Plan priorities of reducing violence, antisocial behaviour, tackling drug dealing, and road traffic deaths and serious injures – all things you tell me mattered most when I am out in our communities and through survey work carried out by my office.
Behind the figures and tables in this plan are some big ideas. We want our partners to engage with young people who are getting involved in crime to better help them to achieve more productive, healthy and crime-free lives. That is not just the right thing to do by them – it is good for us all, ultimately reducing criminality and trauma for us all further down the line.
We also want to ensure that when crime does happen, victims are supported with high quality services to help them on the road to recovery. This means rape and sexual abuse victims having access to effective justice and the help they need. This can mean people affected by crime have the option of meeting the offender to help hold them to account and understand the impact they have had through their actions. We offer this opportunity through a nationally award-winning restorative justice service. It means drug users will have a better motivation to get clean. And for the first time I want those affected by road traffic collisions to be able to access support and bereavement services whether a crime has been committed or not. We will do this through our Vision Zero Road Safety Partnership by funding a post collision victim support offer because the devastation to families is heartbreaking.
My role in setting the budget for policing is perhaps better understood than my job overseeing this range of important work is. So if you want to understand it, or the services we provide for victims of crime, please take a moment to read the police and crime plan.
And if you have a question for me about this work – or any other function of my office – please get in touch.
With your investment and support we can make Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly even safer places to live than they already are.
If you have been a victim of crime please report it to police, in an emergency call 999 or in a non emergency call 101, webchat or email the police via devon-cornwall.police.uk. Alternatively, to stay 100% anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or call Freephone 0800 555 111.
Victims of Crime can get free expert advice 24 hours a day from Victim Support on 08 08 16 89 111 or via victimsupport.org.uk.