The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire is asking residents to fill out a new survey sharing their perceptions of crime in the county.
Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Chris Nelson, seeks to understand people's experiences of crime and policing in Gloucestershire, as well as asking for their views on how to address the rising cost of policing and Gloucestershire Constabulary's ability to provide the services residents expect.
The cost of policing in the county is currently split equally between the government and local taxpayers, with the new survey forming part of a consultation on council tax for 2023.
A 3.5 per cent increase in the policing precept – the second in its three-year plan approved by the government – would add around £10 per year to the average band D household's bill and enable Gloucestershire Constabulary to meet its existing expansion plans, but nothing further.
Discussions are already underway to prepare a budget for the next 12 months, involving the PCC, chief constable and chief finance officers for the force, with the government due to announce how much money it will be providing later this month - though it's expected that this will only be enough to cover the ongoing costs of paying for the additional 150 police constables Gloucestershire is recruiting as part of the national uplift programme.
This would leave the force still needing to find further investment to cover the costs of inflation, with local taxpayers needing to foot the bill for service improvements.
Nelson said: 'We all expect the police to be there when we need them. And although the reputation of some forces has been badly tarnished by the actions of a few officers, I believe the vast majority of the public in Gloucestershire have faith in the Constabulary.
'Even so, everything comes with a price and in the next few weeks, we will be seeking the county’s views on what they think about crime in Gloucestershire and how to meet the rising cost of policing our county, in order to get the service we would all like to see.
'Unlike other areas of the country, the cost of policing in Gloucestershire falls almost equally between central government and local council taxpayers. And while the Home Office has conceded the formula for working out how much money each should receive is unfair to forces like ours, reform will come too late to affect next year’s figures.
'I have lobbied the Home Secretary asking for further consideration to help meet pay awards and energy costs, but we are in the same boat as other public services.
'We expect the government to allow PCCs to set a maximum council tax rise of £10 for the year as that was a commitment it made in a previous spending review. However, a similar cap that was imposed on local government at the same time, was increased in the Chancellor’s autumn statement.
'I was elected to increase the size of the Constabulary and improve services. We’ve made a good start, but further progress will almost certainly depend on local taxpayers’ ability to pay.'
The survey closes on Wednesday 18 January 2023.
To take part, visit gloucestershire-opcc.welcomesyourfeedback.net.