Agenda item

Proposed Gloucestershire Police Precept 2024/25

Minutes:

4.1         The Chair invited the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chris Nelson, to introduce this item. The detailed budget papers were taken as read. The Commissioner invited Chief Constable, Rod Hansen, to give an overview of policing in Gloucestershire to give further context to the budget. They were supported by Ruth Greenwood, Chief Executive of the OPCC and Peter Lewis, Chief Financial Officer, OPCC.

 

4.2         Sophie Benfield, Senior Democratic Services Officer, reminded the Panel of the Precept decision making process.

 

 

4.3         A Member raised concern that not all documents regarding the use of reserves had been ready for the panel to review. The officers confirmed that they had submitted all documents that they were legally required to for this review process but as well there would be a  separate more detailed ‘Reserves Strategy’ which would be shared with the Panel as soon as possible.

 

4.4         It was stated that the decision to use reserves for this budget had been taken due to funding pressures, that were being felt across the public sector, and with regard to public opinion expressed in the OPCC’s Perceptions of Crime survey in Autumn 2023 where 68% respondents felt that they did not believe the police force had sufficient funding. The reserves would be used to fund operational budgets, which would then allow the force to continue to invest in improvement.

 

 

4.5         The Commissioner highlighted a few projects that would be aided by the use of the reserves and the proposed precept increase, some of these included: maintaining the additional 400 police officers, police community support officers (PCSO) and police staff since May 2021, allowing the Enhanced Operating Model to improve, to improve the Force Control Room and to improve IT including the new records management system, NICHE.

ACTION – Reserves and Borrowing Update to be added to the workplan for the September meeting.

 

4.6         Regarding a Member’s question about the decreased number of officers listed in the report, the Chief Constable confirmed that on average, the Constabulary lost eighty officers per year and he confirmed that whilst they had a strong recruitment strategy, due to the nature of policing not all cohorts passed the twenty-five week training program.  However, the Chief reassured the Panel that whilst the figures might have temporarily reduced, the overall trend was still increasing.

 

4.7         When asked about new technology being used in the Constabulary, the Commissioner confirmed that £7 million was being invested into a new records management system, ‘Niche’. He also listed more technological improvements such as the use of Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and drones.

 

 

4.8         Responding to a Member’s question about underutilised Constabulary buildings in the county, the officers confirmed that whilst there were no empty buildings, the estate’s building usage varied daily due to the changing nature of work patterns since the Covid-19 pandemic. The Commissioner confirmed that a complete condition review of the entire police estate was being undertaken to check the physical condition and utilisation. Changes would be made following the findings of this review.

 

4.9         Answering a Member’s question on the Savings and Efficiency plan, it was stated that the OPCC and Constabulary had created a two-phase plan. The first phase would last until 31st March 2024 and would concentrate on delivering sustainable solutions for 2024/2025. The second phase would continue until 30th June 2024 and would have a medium-term focus on delivering sustainable solutions in 2025/2026.

 

ACTION – To add an item on the Savings and Efficiency Plan to the work plan

 

4.10      Responding to a Member’s question about savings achieved in 2023/24, it was confirmed that the savings target of £1.1 million had been reached but included some one-off unsustainable measures. The Chief Finance Officer stated that this was why there was a much greater focus on creating sustainable solutions to achieve the 2024/25 target.

 

4.11       Answering a Member’s question about borrowing, the officers stated that a substantial amount of borrowing was made from internal sources, but it was acknowledged that there was a conflict between using reserves and using internal borrowing. The Chief Financial Officer confirmed that they were basing their decision on whether to use external or internal borrowing on what their Treasury Advisors deemed to be the most cost-efficient borrowing.

 

 

4.12       Referring to information in the Perception of Crime survey, a Member questioned what was being done to tackle vehicle related anti-social behaviour. The officers stated that they had increased the size of their Speed Enforcement team and were working with Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) on the Community Speedwatch Plus program. It was emphasised that this type of partnership working, particularly with Neighbourhood police, allowed the Speed Enforcement team to know where to be positioned to catch persistent offenders. However, the Commissioner highlighted that more needed to be done on educating individuals on the effects of speeding.

Following a detailed discussion and rigorous questioning, the Panel

 

RESOLVED to

Unanimously to support the proposed precept.

 

Following the precept review guidance, the Chair on behalf of the Panel confirmed this decision in writing with a short summary report, a copy of which is annexed below.

 

Supporting documents: