The question is one of several posed by Alison Hernandez who today (Thursday, December 23) launched her 2022/23 budget survey. It comes a week after Home Secretary Priti Patel announced an increase in the amount forces will receive from central Government.
The additional money will in part pay for an uplift in police numbers that is due to boost officer numbers in Devon and Cornwall by 188 in the 2022/23 financial year. The provisional settlement also included plans to boost investigations into serious and organised crime and tackle fraud.
The Commissioner is now faced with a decision on setting police precepts – the amount households pay locally towards policing through their council tax bills. Police and Crime Commissioners have been given flexibility to increase this by up to £10 a year for a Band D Property for the next three years. Currently those in band D households in Devon and Cornwall pay £236.56 a year in their policing precept.
The survey, which can be completed online here, also asks a number of questions relating to police contact and seeks to understand levels of support for plans to open more police stations to the public in Devon and Cornwall.
“We have had what appears to be a reasonable settlement from central Government for Devon and Cornwall,” the Commissioner said. “It will allow us to continue on our upwards trajectory in police officer numbers that was already being funded by local taxpayers here before the Prime Minister announced the national uplift. This has enabled budgeted force strength to grow by 498 officers since 2016/17 to 3,422 officers this financial year. The force is set to grow by another 188 officers in 2022/23, taking force strength to a record high.
“This increase is helping to keep Devon and Cornwall as counties with some of the lowest recorded crime rates in the country, but there are still significant challenges ahead. Inflation means the force is facing significant additional costs, crime types like domestic abuse are now being reported and recorded more effectively - this is an extremely welcome development but it means our force is dealing with more calls for help than ever before.”
The Commissioner said her focus was now on strengthening, sustaining and stabilising the police force so it was fit to deliver on priorities laid out in the 2021-25 Police and Crime Plan of reducing antisocial behaviour, drugs crime and deaths and serious injuries on the roads.
“We have to ensure that people are served by a force that is responsive to their needs and victims of crime have swift access to justice and the services they need to help them recover,” she added.
People have until midnight on Monday, January 9, to complete the survey. Results will be published in a report to the January 28 meeting of the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel.