Cash injection for policing not enough, West Yorkshire PCC says

The government announced more cash for frontline policing yesterday.
The government announced more cash for frontline policing yesterday.

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for West Yorkshire has said that the extra hundreds of millions of pounds pledged for police forces across the UK is "not a great injection of cash"

Mark Burns-Williamson said that although the investment, which is the biggest in crime-fighting since 2010, was welcome, the government had "passed responsibility" to local politicians because much of the funding was dependent on tax increases.

PCC Mark Burns-Williamson

PCC Mark Burns-Williamson

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the exact amount of investment, which will go towards tackling organised crime, counter-terrorism and office pensions as well as other areas, totalled "up to £970m".

But some households may have to pay £24 a year extra to fund the move, if individual PCCs decide to raise the policing precept, which feeds into council tax.

Speaking at a PCC Panel meeting on Friday, Mr Burns-Williamson (Lab) said: "In my view, policing has not been enough of a priority for this government over the last eight years.

"Hopefully we are now moving in the right direction.

"The big thing though is, yes, there was the announcement yesterday (Thursday) of £900m for policing, but part of that is £360m for pensions.

"And half of it is predicated on PCCs raising council tax by £24 (per household).

"If that wasn't clear yesterday, then let me make that clear.

"It's not the great injection of cash it's been made out to be."

A public consultation has started today on whether or not people in West Yorkshire would be willing to pay the increase. However, the PCC said that because 70 per cent of the region's homes are in tax bands A, B and C, many people could escape a big hike even if it was imposed.

Mr Burns-Williamson also criticised the Home Office, saying it "lacked strategic leadership" in a number of areas on guidance for police.

He told councillors: "They've stepped back from a lot of things that in my view we need to be provided with a more of a steer on.

"There are certain things like IT programmes and strategic policing requirements that they are not being strong enough."