Another 150 police officers for Nottingham – but at what cost to you?
KEEPING Nottingham safe is an expensive business – and money is tighter than ever.
People in Notts will be asked again to dip into their pockets for policing, this time to help pay for 150 new bobbies on the beat over the next year.
On Wednesday it was confirmed the police part of the council tax bill will go up – this time by 1.95 per cent.
This means the average Band D home will be paying an extra £3.24 for policing for the year from April. But the cash the force gets from council tax bills is still only 25 per cent of its income – £48.6 million.
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The overall £196.9 million annual bill has been rubber-stamped in a climate of funding cuts, complex Government grants and fierce debate over what resources the police really need to fight crime.
The total was also the first budget put together by Paddy Tipping - the new Notts Police and Crime Commissioner elected in November. Having replaced the now-scrapped Notts Police Authority, he controls the purse strings of policing in the city and county.
And thanks to continuing Government cuts, he says, we're not exactly flush.
"It's tight – but we've been able to move things around and put extra resources in to the extra 150 officers," he said. "But it means we've got to make significant savings elsewhere."
Before his arrival, the force had already sold off police stations, closed the mounted section, and used a rule called A19 to force more than 100 officers to retire.
Mr Tipping warned there's more to come – with the force still battling to save a total of £42.3 million from their spending by 2015.
Mr Tipping said: "I think we are going to have to look again at the estate – and it's clear we've got to make savings on the fleet (of vehicles). If you talk to beat officers they will say 'we've not got enough access to cars' but perhaps that's because we've got cars in the wrong places some times."
Mr Tipping's first budget was approved by the Notts Police and Crime Panel on Wednesday at County Hall.
The new body, made up of councillors and independents from across Notts, is in charge of making sure Mr Tipping keeps the force on an even keel – be it balancing the books or locking up criminals.
Panel chairman John Clarke, also a former member of the Police Authority, said: "The continuous underspends by the force are not acceptable – but we have to recognise he (Mr Tipping) has only just come in. From next year is when the pressure will really start to build.
"We left him with a very significant amount of money and he's been able to bring in the extra officers."
Of the new panel-commissioner system, he added: "It's a bit early to judge yet but I'm not that impressed at the moment. The panel seems very much the Police Authority mark II."
Chief Constable Chris Eyre, himself only in the top job permanently since August, said: "Mr Tipping is working with us and setting challenging objectives about how we can drive improvements in our communities."
Of the current funding situation, he said: "I think if you were to talk to officers and staff they will tell you they are working incredibly hard – we need to build more numbers in policing."
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