Merseyside Police’s Commissioner and Chief Constable will host a special public meeting this week at which the police’s budget will be set for the year ahead.
Balancing Merseyside Police’s budget is one of the Police Commissioner, Emily Spurrell’s most critical roles. She sets and approves the budget after presenting her proposals to the body which scrutinises her work, the Police and Crime Panel.
At a meeting last week, Panel members endorsed Emily’s plan to help protect Merseyside Police in the year ahead in the face of spiralling inflation and rising costs, plugging the funding gap caused by years of insufficient Government funding.
After 13 years of austerity, Merseyside Police are currently facing a £8.5m blackhole in the year ahead and need to find £22m of savings by 2027/28.
The Government announced in December that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) would be expected to raise the police precept – the part of council tax which is ring-fenced for policing – by £13 a year for a Band D property in 2023/24 to cover increasing costs in the year ahead.
This equates to 17p a week for a Band A property – the rate paid by most council taxpayers in Merseyside. This increase will generate an extra £5m for local policing.
Even with this vital extra funding provided, the Police Commissioner will still need to use £5.2m of reserves and ‘one-off’ funding and the Chief Constable will need to make £3.3m of savings just to balance the books in the year ahead.
Despite the financial challenges, all crime has reduced by 7.7% across Merseyside, with significant reductions in burglary (18%), knife crime (18.6%) and gun crime at its lowest level since records began 22 years ago.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said, “It’s my job to ensure Merseyside Police has the money it needs to keep our communities safe and is in the strongest possible position for the year ahead.
“In the face of soaring inflation and costs and more cuts anticipated in the next few years, this has been no easy task. The financial position is extremely challenging and has required very careful planning and saving over the year ahead.
“Due to insufficient funding from central Government, we’re being forced to find much-needed money elsewhere.
“The Government has assumed in its budget plans that local people can pay more, but even with this difficult increase, we will still have to use money from our reserves and make further cuts to balance the books this year.
“While I was extremely reluctant to ask taxpayers to contribute a little extra to support their police service, this additional funding was essential if I was to protect Merseyside Police from even bigger cuts in the year ahead.
“Even with the hugely valuable contribution of local people, the Chief Constable will still have to make £3.3m of savings in the year ahead and Merseyside Police remains 450 officers short of the number it had in 2010.
“I am focused on doing everything possible to protect local policing and keep our communities safe. I will continue to lobby Ministers at every chance I get to our region the funding is needs and deserves.
“I’d invite anyone who is interested in finding out more the careful work being done to protect Merseyside Police’s budget to attend this special public meeting.”
The meeting will be held at 3.30pm on Wednesday 14 February 2024 at Merseyside Police headquarters, Rose Hill, 15 Cazneau Street, Liverpool, L3 3AN.
Anyone wishing to observe this meeting, must register their interest in advance by emailing email@example.com