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Consultations & Surveys

PUBLIC SURVEY

This survey is now closed.

Between 5th and 19th January, then Acting Police and Crime Commissioner asked the public for their views on whether they would be prepared to pay an extra £1.25 a month towards policing Cambridgeshire (This is for a Band D property)

Read below for further information on then Acting Commissioner’s proposal.

As we plan the budget for our police service for 2021/22, I am keen to understand your views regarding the part of council tax (the precept) that goes towards funding Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

This year has been exceptionally challenging for all of us. Throughout the pandemic, our police officers, volunteers and staff have been working tirelessly to help keep us all safe, whilst responding to the usual demands for service.

It has also been a year that has seen police officer numbers increase to the highest level ever seen in Cambridgeshire.

Thanks to the contribution people have made to policing through their council tax over the last two years and the government’s national police officer recruitment programme (often referred to as the “uplift programme”), officer numbers in Cambridgeshire have continued to grow – from 1,425 in March 2018 to 1,559 expected by March 2021. The Chief Constable has used that growth to increase neighbourhood teams from 57 officers in 2018 to 132 today.

On top of this we expect to see another 140 officers recruited in the next 2 years from the uplift programme.

When the Chief Constable joined Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 2018, HMICFRS (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services) had graded the Constabulary as ‘Requires Improvement’ in terms of its effectiveness in keeping people safe and reducing crime, with ‘Good’ gradings for efficiency and legitimacy in 2017.

Now the grading is “Good; Good; Good” across the board.

So why am I asking you how much you want to pay towards police funding when officer numbers are so high and the Constabulary is assessed as “Good”?

Police funding comes from two main sources: a central government grant (about 55%) and the remaining amount (about 45%) from local council tax. Whilst government funding for our county is increasing for 2021/22, it is only to pay for the additional “uplift” officers we expect. A complex organisation such as a police force with its range of functions (many not visible to the public) and infrastructure to support it, inevitably has other cost pressures that need to be funded.

Clearly before asking you to pay more for policing it is absolutely essential that savings from the existing budget are found wherever possible. The Chief Constable has identified savings of nearly £6m from its collaborated services shared with other forces, from administrative and “back office” functions, such as ICT and HR and from remodelling the neighbourhood policing model.

For the Constabulary to continue to improve and to adapt to new demands, the Chief Constable needs to continue to transform the way services are delivered. Extra officers are in your neighbourhoods now and responding to incidents, but there is far more to policing and other support is needed to make those officers able to provide additional services to the public.

The Chief Constable, through a very rigorous planning process, has identified additional support that the Constabulary will be able to provide to the public increasing the effectiveness of his officers, if the Commissioner sets the full precept as expected by Government. These include

  • Additional call handlers – most incidents start with a call from the public therefore it is vital this is as efficient and effective as it can be with more police staff undertaking this function where possible;
  • Vulnerability Support Team – the vulnerability agenda (which includes areas such as Domestic Abuse, Mental Health, Child Sexual Exploitation, Modern Slavery, Concern for Safety calls for service and Missing from Home reports) is a huge area of policing. Early identification of vulnerability from the initial call for service has proven to be vital in assessing risk, together with the effective response and supervision of each incident. A new Vulnerability Support Team would be located across the County and within the Demand Hub, not only to assist in identifying risk right from the initial call, but additionally to support and guide officers and staff throughout the investigation.
  • Digital, Social Media Contact Desk – new legislation comes into being in 2021 whereby the police are required to monitor and respond to on-line contact between the public and the Constabulary via such digital channels as social media. It has been seen throughout the pandemic that the public have increased their use of webchat, on-line reporting of crime and intelligence, and to seek advice and guidance. This new service will not only monitor and respond to on-line correspondence but will also be able to pro-actively issue messages regarding incidents, demand surges, information and guidance and preventative messages to reduce demand and importantly increase public confidence and satisfaction with the service. By encouraging demand into the digital space, officers will be able to respond to public concerns more effectively and thus increase visibility of frontline resources.
  • Digital Media Investigators (DMIs): nearly 90% of all investigations have some sort of digital footprint. The complexity of crime and the ever-increasing advances of digital technology place an ever-increasing demand on officers, not only within the specialist areas of investigation, but right across the policing service. We have seen cyber and on-line crime increase and during the pandemic the exploitation of vulnerable people has been difficult to combat. The investment of additional DMIs will enhance the Constabulary’s ability to deal effectivity with these types of investigation and importantly free up time to support victims.
  • Cyber, On-Line Prevention Officers- Scams, on-line fraud, vulnerable people being duped into handing over large sums of money, often hard to recover, are on the increase. Again the pandemic and future projections indicate that this type of crime is on the rise. These additional police staff will support Neighbourhood Officers and Staff, link into the Cyber Crime Directorate and provide a liaison point for local charities to work together to combat this type of crime.
  • Continuous Professional Development Units – these have already been established in our policing districts to support frontline officers. Many of our “response” officers have less than two years’ service and the units are there to help support their development. Police staff support in the units will help the development of officers and also enable the Sergeants and Inspectors to spend more time supervising incidents and investigations.
  • Diversity Coordinator – a workforce reflecting the communities the Constabulary serves has been high on the agenda for several years. This additional resource will work alongside the Positive Action Team and within communities to build trust and confidence to encourage and support applications to be officers from minority, under-represented communities. In addition, the resource will work internally to support officers and staff alongside the existing staff support networks, to ensure those recruited are supported and encouraged to progress within the Constabulary.

It is worth noting that all of the above are police staff roles that directly support the public or support our officers in making them more effective.

The government controls how much the precept can be raised by. For next year the government have said Police and Crime Commissioners can raise it by £1.25 a month (£15 a year) for a Band D property, with proportionate amounts across the other bands.

If the precept part of the council tax is raised by the full amount, this will raise a total of £72m and ensure that the Chief Constable can continue to improve the Constabulary, making best use of its officers whilst also providing additional services. The ambition is to change from a policing service in Cambridgeshire that is “Good”, to one that is “Outstanding”.

I am aware of just how difficult the financial this year has been for our communities with many people working with reduced hours, or even losing their jobs.

It is always difficult to ask people to pay more money towards policing however it is vital that we do everything we can to keep our communities safe.

I would be grateful if you could spare a minute to complete my short survey. Your views will then inform my final decision on how much to raise the policing part of the council tax.

At the same time, I would be grateful if you could provide your views on policing and crime – this will help me understand your concerns and inform the incoming Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan which sets the direction for policing and community safety for the next three years.

A link to the survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DNTBBTX

The survey runs from 5th January until 17:00 on 19th January.

Views can also be given by email: cambs-pcc@cambs.pnn.police.uk