After vetoing an initial proposal put to them earlier this month, the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel has today reluctantly approved an increase of just under 10 per cent in council tax for policing put forward by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan.
The panel vetoed the Commissioner’s original proposed increase at its meeting of 5 February due to a lack of assurance and detail about where the extra money would be spent, particularly in relation to improving local policing.
However, the Commissioner returned yesterday to ask the Panel to consider a revised proposal of an increase of £22.95 in 2019/20 for a Band D property, £1 lower than the proposal previously submitted. This year, the Government has given additional flexibility to commissioners to raise the policing precept by up to £24.
Having challenged the Commissioner to provide them with further specifics about how this considerable increase would be spent, the Commissioner submitted new details that set out her plans for improving neighbourhood policing. The Panel heard that the money raised by this increase will provide 51 additional police officers and 23.5 PCSOs across North Yorkshire and York. Plans for these new recruits include the creation of a City Task Force in York comprising 10 officers and another 22 officers dedicated to neighbourhood teams and multi-agency prevention work.
The Panel is only able to exercise its power of veto for the Commissioner’s first proposal, but the Commissioner must now “have regard” to further recommendations made by the Panel on her latest proposal. These include quarterly financial monitoring and greater scrutiny of the delivery of the Police and Crime Plan.
Councillor Carl Les, Chair of the panel, said:
We recognise that an increase of just over 9.8% is a big ask of the public, but we also understand the public’s demand for better, more visible, local policing and this funding is vital to making that happen. At our last meeting, we were clear with the Commissioner that this level of increase could not be approved with so little detail or assurance for the public about the kinds of changes they would see as a result.
Following the further detail presented today, we have reluctantly supported this significant increase. We recognise that this is the only way to ensure the police get the resources they so desperately need in terms of local, visible policing.
However, the Panel will hold the Commissioner to account through scrupulous monitoring of the financial position and the progress in making visible changes to local policing.