It is a regrettable fact that the most challenging issue facing modern policing is financial.
Police forces are riding a never-ending storm of budgetary cuts and economic pressures at a time when they should be free to focus on the increasing threats to public safety.
Following year after year of unwanted and debilitating funding cuts, Derbyshire Constabulary can no longer reasonably expect to protect all its services at their current level. Within the next four years, we will be operating with the same volume of officers as in the 1980s – despite an increasing population and an ever increasing complexity of crime.
What impact will this have in the future?
Decision-making is likely to become entirely risk-based, protecting one service user group at the expense of another.
Such a situation cannot fail to go unnoticed by the public.
Ironically, the relentless cuts being pursued by the government (at a time when it is absurdly reducing taxation for the wealthy) will soon begin to cripple effectiveness rather than improve it.
And this could have grave consequences for community safety.
Derbyshire’s funding settlement has reduced by a further £5.4m this year – money which would have covered about 110 police officer salaries.
The total budget has been set at £100.400m.
We are working immensely hard to minimise the risks of these financial shortfalls on our services but inevitably there will be changes to how we operate - even without further cuts - including fewer police officers and staff.
No increase in local council tax is to be welcomed however, by adding just a small amount (1.99%) to the policing portion of the council tax bill this year (equating to £3.39 per year for a Band D property), we will be able to take some of the sting out of the current cuts and strengthen the base budget in the future.
It could take several years to recover from such catastrophic under-investment and in the meantime vast emerging threats within our communities such as cybercrime and internet-based grooming will be putting children and vulnerable people at risk.
By following such a misjudged path, the government is removing the opportunity for any proactive police work at all and we will end up delivering predominantly reactive-only enforcement.
Only time will tell the true cost of this, but the public can rest assured that the chief constable and I will continue do everything in our power to keep Derbyshire as safe as possible in the future.
To find out more about the work of police and crime commissioner Alan Charles log-on to www.derbyshire-pcc.gov.uk or email his office via email@example.com or telephone 0300 122 6000.