COLUMN: Helping to close the funding gap

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With economic conditions still bleak, maintaining strong policing performance and effectiveness in 2017-18 will once again involve a delicate balancing act.

There are new crime risks to be tackled and demand for frontline policing resources continues to increase rapidly.

We’ve changed the way we operate to meet these pressures but maintaining the momentum of improvement and success is a constant battle and the coming year will be no exception.

The government settlement for policing in 2017-18 follows a similar line to 2016/17. While the former Chancellor pledged to protect the policing budget, this was on the assumption that PCCs increase the amount of money people pay towards policing by 2 per cent.

Asking people to pay more is always regrettable but the vast majority of people living in Derbyshire recognise the importance of protecting our thin blue line and have indicated their support for such a rise.

In my recent consultation, for example, 73 per cent of residents showed strong support for an increase of 2 per cent or higher. This would generate an extra £1m per year in additional income which is approximately the same as maintaining 20 police officers.

Derbyshire Constabulary anticipates its budget to be £164.3m this year to maintain services at their current level although this figure is subject to review. Even if a precept increase of 1.99 per cent is agreed, approximately £1m is needed from reserves or efficiency savings.

It is a manageable deficit but is one that will require strong leadership and shrewd decision-making to ensure that frontline services are protected wherever possible.

The Chief Constable has already signalled the intention to begin a process of identifying potential savings early in 2017/18 and my office will play a strong part in challenging the force to close the medium-term funding gap. Everybody who works for the force is committed to keeping this county safe from harm. With their tenacity and continued dedication, Derbyshire can look forward to a better future.