Plans to boost police numbers in Derbyshire with increased budget

There is set to be a boost in police numbers in Derbyshire.
There is set to be a boost in police numbers in Derbyshire.

Plans have been unveiled to boost police numbers in Derbyshire.

The proposed budget for policing and community safety in Derbyshire for 2019/20 will be discussed at a meeting on January 21.

However, a report published this week states plans to:

- Recruit 120 additional officers and staff (58 police officers and 62 extra staff)

- Increase police visibility

- Improve Road safety

- Provide greater support to vulnerable people, including those in mental health crisis

- Enhance investigative policing

The increase in numbers will mainly be in safer neighbourhood teams and roads policing.

The proposals have been put together by Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa and Derbyshire Chief Constable Peter Goodman.

The increase in police numbers will be afforded by the planned increase in council tax proposed by the Government and a contribution from reserves.

Mr Dhindsa is proposing a revenue budget for 2019/20 of £181.016m - an increase of £11.846m over last year's figure of £169.170m.

The budget for policing Derbyshire has seen real term cuts amounting to £40m since 2010 which has resulted in over 400 fewer police officers and a similar reduction in police staff than there were nine years ago.

Mr Dhindsa said: "People tell me that they want to see more police officers. This budget will do that. It will allow us to increase our workforce by 120: 58 additional police officers and 62 extra members of staff whose work will help to keep more officers out in communities. It will increase police visibility, it will boost police capacity to focus on areas that recently have suffered from lack of resources caused by imposed austerity measures and it will strengthen our ability to keep people safe.

"The Government clearly accepts that it has cut police funding too much, for too long. Police forces are under immense strain and public safety has to be our first priority. It is disappointing that the Government's figures are based on local people paying more, but there is little option but to go along with their plans. If we didn't the public would be less safe, there would be fewer police officers, there would be more victims and less support for vulnerable people."

He added: "But as necessary and appreciated as this increase is, we shouldn't forget that previous budget cuts mean that we currently have over 400 fewer police officers and nearly 250 fewer police staff than we had in 2010. We still have a long way to go before we get back to the levels that the Chief Constable and I would feel comfortable with. That is why I won't rest until the Government finally gives Derbyshire the fairer, long-term settlement that it needs."

Mr Goodman said: "Policing nationally and locally has been an increasing strain for the last 10 years as budgets have diminished significantly, at the same time as levels of demands have increased and threats that we face have diversified and grown.

"Whilst Derbyshire has remained a high performing force throughout this period there is no doubt that cracks have opened and the impact on the health and well-being of officers and staff is being felt.

"Whilst this will not solve all the issues it means we can put 120 people back into front-line policing, which the people of Derbyshire deserve."

Derbyshire Police Federation Chair, Tony Wetton, said: "This budget will see some much-needed additional officers strengthening our neighbourhood policing establishment. That's what people want to see, police officers on the beat in our communities.

"But while this is a welcome boost, it will not make up for the years of austerity measures that have seen police numbers fall to their lowest for 30 years and the loss over 400 officers in Derbyshire alone. Policing in Derbyshire desperately needs a significant increase in funding from central Government and we hope the Comprehensive Spending Review later this year gives policing the priority it deserves."

Unison Secretary Marie Davey added: "This budget clearly recognises the valuable role that police staff play in policing and community safety and we welcome the planned increase in staff numbers. We appreciate that the Police and Crime Commissioner is hugely disappointed that he has been forced to find this extra funding from local taxpayers, but the reality is that the Government has left him with little option if he is to ensure the force has the resources it needs to keep Derbyshire safe."

A survey carried out by Mr Dhindsa, running since November 20, 2018, shows that the majority of respondents are willing to pay more towards policing. Of 1,660 responses 71.3 per cent said they were willing to pay £12 or more.

Numbers increase

- 42 new posts into the Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT) with a further eight officers transferred to SNTs from response

- 22 new Detective Staff Investigators who will support neighbourhood safeguarding units and focus on public protection and tackling domestic abuse

- 28 new Police Constables in local policing units in the north and south of the county

- Five new Police Constables in the Countywide Rural Crime Team

- Seven new Police Constables and one new Sergeant for Roads Policing

- Seven new members of staff to develop and support the analytical capability of the force

- Investment in work to prevent crime, including issues such domestic abuse, and additional mental health support plus one new Sergeant

- Investment in new technology including tasers, drones and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) capability to support and protect the front-line to include four new Police Constables and one ANPR member of staff.

- A further two temporary criminal justice members of staff to boost the criminal justice capacity.