West Midlands Police and Crime Panel approve budget plans

The Police and Crime Commissioner's plan to help slow the decline in officer numbers and directly protect 100 posts has been approved unanimously.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Panel has supported the PCC's 2018/19 budget for West Midlands Police. 

PCC Xmas Market 

Due to budget cuts the force was due to lose 128 officer posts by 2020. Under these new plans West Midlands Police will stabilise at 6,500 officers, down from 6,528. To standstill West Midlands Police requires an additional £22 million a year. This increase in council tax raises under half of that amount at £9.5 million, with difficult financial decisions remaining. The approved plan means the policing precept will increase by £12 a year for a Band D council taxpayer in the West Midlands. It currently stands at £116.55 and will rise to £128.55 in April.

Despite the small rise, people in the West Midlands will be paying more than £50 less than neighbouring forces and still paying less than residents in almost every other force area. In 2018/19 the West Midlands Police precept will be the second lowest in the country at just £128.55 per annum (for a Band D council taxpayer) compared to the current (2017/18) highest of £224.57 in Surrey.

Neighbouring forces currently charge the following for their policing precept on a Band D property: Staffordshire £181.16, West Mercia £189.60 and Warwickshire £191.98. Most of these charges are set to increase in April too.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said:

"This budget still means difficult times for West Midlands Police. Officer numbers will be stabilised, rather than increased, and those officers are dealing with more crime. Across the country crime is rising at its fastest rate since 1992.

"The public have made it clear to me they want to see the number of officers protected. I am reluctant to put up council tax, even by a small amount, but I must do all I can to prevent the force from shrinking.

"The government has made it clear it expects me to raise the council tax precept by the maximum amount and with the pressures on policing being what they are I have agreed to do that. To standstill West Midlands Police requires £22 million. This increase raises £9.5 million. I am making sure the money goes on recruitment and protecting officer posts. I am disappointed the government is refusing to properly fund the policing here in the West Midlands. Instead, it is leaving it to the people of the West Midlands to part fund our own force.  It should not be shifting its responsibilities on to local taxpayers at a time when everyone is feeling the squeeze.

"West Midlands Police will still have a much lower council tax precept than the surrounding areas, who all charge at least £50 more than we do for policing."

During the PCC's budget consultation 76.7% of the 849 respondents indicated that they would be willing to pay £12 a year more to support officer numbers.

Commenting on delivering the PCC's budget plans, Chief Constable Dave Thompson, said:

"Our West Midlands region has the highest population living in deprivation, the largest under the age of 25 and the second most diverse community of any police force in the country. Our challenges are unique yet we will see one of the smallest rises in spend across all forces, all of it funded by a local tax increase.

"I am pleased to see the additional budget and will use it to recruit 100 additional officers to support the transformational work ongoing in West Midlands Police."