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Police and Crime Panel endorses precept to protect the frontline

Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel yesterday voted in favour of supporting the Police and Crime Commissioner’s proposed seven pence per week increase in precept, saying they believed it was crucial to protect the frontline.

The Commissioner initially put forward the proposed increase saying that it would mean that the frontline continues to be protected in the coming year.

Significant savings had been made to balance the 2014/15 budget, but a grant settlement announcement before Christmas revealed that forces including Cambridgeshire had been ‘top sliced’ to fund national initiatives. Cambridgeshire therefore received £1.2m less than expected in police grant for 2014/15. Despite already having made savings of close to £5m within the current year, the number of police officers working in local policing has risen from 988.5 at the start of the year to 998 at the beginning of the coming year.

Sir Graham said: “The Panel indicated that while the affordability of tax increases is a concern both for our communities and ourselves as public authorities, this must be balanced against feedback from the public who want to see police out on the streets in their communities. The Panel agreed that this below inflation increase balances those public expectations.

“Cambridgeshire is already one of the lowest costing forces in the country, with one of the highest percentage of officers out on the frontline. It also continues to punch above its weight in terms of performance and I must pay tribute to the Chief Constable and his team for that.

“The Panel was supportive of Cambridgeshire leading the way on visibility and IT through Programme Metis, which is all about using technology to free up officers’ time. The savings we hope to see in the coming year through technology may mean that we are in a stronger position this time next year.

“I thank the Panel for their careful consideration of all the issues and their support for frontline services.”

The precept will provide a £130.8m budget for policing in 2014/15. This will allow Sir Graham to continue to deliver against his pledges as set out in the Police and Crime Plan.