@InspMarcJordan" @EssexPCC: PCC Nick Alston makes the case for an extra 40p a month to pay for policing and community safety work.http://www.essex.pcc.police.uk/ "
So I followed the link to our new PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner - feel I had to point that out as many people will still not have a clue to who or what that is or what good they are to us), but anyway Mr Alston has been busying himself with getting to grips to what I liken to as, a Government sponsored Quangoess type position. And for those of you not aware of what a Quango is, here is the link to Wikipedia, but I think my explanation is easier to understand, which is this;
A Quango is something set up by the government of the day that costs the tax payers £millions to set up. It is an organisation the taxpayers didn't know about, care about or needed. It is funded by government out of central taxes (PCC's Local taxes I think) but those involved with running it quickly become demigods ignoring the needs or wants of the local populace and or councils, and they run roughshod over local opinion while continuing to spend £millions of tax payers monies on expenses and salaries with no one seemingly, able to reign them in, in my opinion........ Same, I suspect, as a PCC....
Mr Alston goes on to make his case as to why he thinks tax payers in Essex should be asked to spend an extra 0.40 pence per month towards Policing in Essex. Now, right of the bat please let me make it perfectly clear that 40 pence is not a big amount to ask for policing, it's not, but;
He starts of by telling us that "The simple truth is that the amount of council tax we each pay to fund policing services in our county is the lowest in the country."
Nice, let's get that in there first, that we are already the most tight fisted tax payers in the country, but lets not forget that the previous budgets were set by those elected in the borough with dear old 'I'm resigning Chief Constable Barker-Mcardle', who handed in his papers days after Mr Alston was elected!
Mr Alston goes on to inform us that since budget cuts were introduced that, "All the evidence suggests that Essex Police is already a lean, efficiently run force, with over ninety percent of officers deployed on the front line and the seventh highest police officer to police staff ratio in the country. This means that most of our money is spent on “front line” policing."
He also informs us that, "This is the context in which to judge the impact of the budget savings that the force has already made. Compared with the levels of 2010, Essex Police will soon have lost 875 posts: 353 police officers (around ten percent of officers); 112 PCSOs (around 24 percent of PCSOs); and 410 police staff (roughly 19 percent of the total). It is also the case that the four year plan agreed for Essex Police to meet over £42 million in budget cuts included a 2.5 percent increase in the portion of council tax paid to fund policing in both 2013-14 and 2014-15."
He then goes back to the little bit of moral blackmail that he started off with by stating, "One further striking fact is that if we, the people of Essex, paid the equivalent to the national average for policing from council tax, it would fund 470 extra police officers. We are at the bottom of the pile and will only fall further behind if we don’t take steps now to invest in our police."
So, hang on, we have lost 353 POLICE OFFICERS but he wants an increase to give him back 470 POLICE OFFICERS. Now he breaks the losses down into, police officers, pcso's and police staff. So are the 470 all going to be front line police officers or is it going to be a mixture of, officers, pcso's and staff? Who knows he doesn't break it down or make it very clear.
Then just for good measure he throws in the scare tactic telling us that, "Ultimately, there must be a risk that continued cuts in the number of police officers will make Essex more vulnerable to crime."
Before finally telling us that he wants an increase in the budget, "Therefore, I have decided to ask for a 3.5 percent increase in the portion of council tax used to fund policing and community safety in Essex, which amounts to an extra £4.77 per year for a Band D council tax payer."
But, and again, if Essex Police are already to get an agreed 2.5 percent increase over the next 4 years and Mr Alston is asking for a 3.5 percent increase, is that on top of the 2.5 percent making a total of 6 percent or is it 1 percent on top of the 2.5 percent? It's as clear as mud, just like a Quango would be if making the same points!
Now I understand that Essex has decided to impose a freeze on the council tax for the third year in succession and let's face it the cost of everything else is going up, energy bills, food, fuel, travel and the government has imposed wage freezes on public sector workers and if you work in the private sector try getting a pay rise out of your employer.....
No Doubt Essex County Fire and Rescue will be looking for an increase too. So they and the Police get their rise but the council doesn't put up the tax to the residents in the borough where is the money to come from then? Well it will come out of reduced spending on housing, road and street repairs and improvements, welfare and healthcare, education and the many other services that the councils are required to provide; we will all miss out because the police can't cope and make adjustments.
I'll say it again £4.77 is a ridiculously modest amount, when said like that, but put into cost, the total they are asking for becomes an immodest and large amount of money. I am not saying they don't need it, I'm not saying that it won't be spent wisely but........
I am a great supporter of the Police, I also take them to task and they have a thankless job and I am glad they are doing it and not me, but I also see first hand how inefficient they can be. Even before Essex Police started losing 'officers' the joke with us was that an incident report would turn up on my desk marked 'UNUSUAL OCCURRENCE' Observed Essex Police Officers out on patrol, Front line Policing seems to mean two different things to the two groups involved, i.e the Police and the Public. Not really sure what it means to the Police but to the Public, 'Front Line Policing' means seeing police officers out and about and on patrol or attending to an incident that has been reported. And from my point of view, they have always been sadly lacking from both.
So, while it is your right and duty in your position of PCC to try and maintain a budget that can be worked with and not see any further deterioration to our policing, you need to do it in line with what you are given and stop trying to make us feel bad and that it's our fault that you don't have the funds. Maybe, and I don't know if this is a reason why we have oner of the lowest 'police budgets' in the the country, but could it be that unemployment and the number of people on rent rebates and council tax exemptions are higher than other counties in the country, I don't know, maybe you or someone from Essex CC can tell us why it has been consistently lower than other regions. Have your money but do it in line with the restraints that are being placed on all of us. Policing is special I want Policing and I want a strong well paid Police force, with men and women who are going to stand there on the front line protecting me from the moron anarchists and the every day criminals who make all our lives miserable And at the end of the day the Justice system, lazy and incompetent magistrates and judges who are continually letting offenders off and back out on to the streets are all adding to the costs that you need, and that we end up being bled for....
The full text of Mr Alston's report is here