Police + Fire

Consultation launched on more investment for local policing

THE GREATER Manchester police precept public consultation has been launched today (Wednesday 11 January). The consultation (link opens in new window) proposes an increase to the police precept for 2023/24 to help keep communities safe by setting up dedicated Neighbourhood Crime Teams in each district to proactively tackle and investigate burglary, robbery and vehicle crime, respond to 101 and 999 calls faster and investigate crimes quicker.

The precept is the police element of council tax, and the consultation proposes a £1.25 per month increase for a Band D property (£15 per year) or £0.83 per month for a Band A property (£10 per year) – the majority of households in Greater Manchester are in Band A (44.7 percent).

The current police precept for a Band D property is £228.30 per year which would increase next year to £243.30 a year and a Band A property will go up from £152.20 to £162.20. Greater Manchester has one of the lowest police precepts in the country.

Greater Manchester’s priorities for policing for the next financial year are funded partly through a grant from central government and partly through the local precept. Policing priorities cannot be funded through the central government grant alone. While the 2023/24 provisional settlement from central government includes an increase in the Police Core Grant of 1.8 percent, the government also assumes that forces will receive the maximum precept from local council taxpayers.  Even then, this increase does not factor in inflationary pressures and a backdrop of years of funding cuts.

Between 2011-19, the government cut the grant they provide to Greater Manchester Police in real terms by £215 million, which resulted in 2,000 fewer police officers, 1,000 fewer support staff and devastating cuts to other essential resources. Since 2017, asking the public of Greater Manchester to fund an increase in the police precept has helped the Mayor and Deputy Mayor enable the recruitment of 1,253 more police officers with GMP.

The 2022/23 financial year has helped fund significant improvements to GMP under Chief Constable Stephen Watson’s leadership, that saw it come out of HMICFRS special measures. Improvements include:

  • 999 call answering times are now the fastest they have been for over 2 years. In November 2022, the average speed of answer was 8 seconds, down from a peak of 1 minute and 22 seconds in July 2021. This puts GMP as the best performing large metropolitan force in the country and in the top ten of all forces nationally.
  • Non-emergency average speed of answer has also improved and is now 1 minute and 31 seconds from a peak of 6 minutes and 44 seconds in June 2021.
  • Attendance times for the most serious of incidents (grade 1 where there is a target to attend within 15 minutes) has improved from 13 minutes and 35 seconds in September 2021 to an average of 10 minutes, and we are also seeing a significant improvement in non-emergency responses.
  • Officers attended 94 percent of all burglaries (73 percent the previous year).
  • Arrests have more than doubled.
  • More ethical and accurate recording of crime.
  • Charges laid against suspects are up 42 percent on last year and positive criminal justice outcomes have increased by 26 percent.
  • Good reductions in crime affecting neighbourhoods are being seen, such as robbery and vehicle crime.

It is imperative that GMP have the level of funding required to sustain the impressive improvements made to date and continue to strengthen public safety. A £15 precept increase would provide GMP with a further £13.7 million and, including the government grant, it will increase overall funding by £23.5 million (3.3 percent). 

However, it should be noted that even with a maximum £15 per year precept increase the 2023/24 police budget will still require significant efficiencies within GMP to manage inflationary pressures, whilst continuing to deliver improvements. If the precept is set below that level, those efficiencies risk becoming service cuts and threaten the progress that GMP is making in areas such as the Force Contact Centre (call handling) and Neighbourhood Policing. Most, if not all police and crime commissioners across England and Wales are seeking to increase the precept by the full £15 allowed by the government.

The proposed increase in the precept, along with the central government grant, will allow the Mayor and Deputy Mayor to sustain the improvements already achieved over the past year and deliver further additional benefits:

  • The establishment of dedicated Neighbourhood Crime Teams in each district to more effectively and proactively tackle the issues that the public told us are important to them in a GMP consultation last year, including burglary, robbery, and vehicle crime.
  • The workforce level required to ensure that the significant improvements in 999 and 101 waiting times are maintained and further improved, particularly in respect of 101.
  • Increased capacity and capability of crime scene investigators and digital investigators strengthening opportunities to detect neighbourhood crime and sex offending, including such offences against children in particular.
  • Increased numbers of investigators who conduct initial investigations when a crime is first reported, to ensure more timely and effective investigations into offences that have a big impact on our communities like criminal damage and hate crime.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: 

“What I’m asking local council taxpayers to do here is going to be tough amidst a cost of living crisis. It’s not something I want to do but it is the only way we can afford the quality of police service we need to keep us safe. The government has not given us an inflation-proofed police grant increase and that means, even if the police precept is set at the maximum allowed of £15 per year for a Band D property, GMP will still need to make efficiencies. Anything lower than that will mean real cuts to our police service and risks putting all the improvements GMP in reverse.

“All police forces in the country are facing the same challenges which is why most of the Police and Crime Commissioners are looking to do the same as I am. Keeping the public of Greater Manchester safe is my priority and it is vital that GMP have the resources they need to do that.”

Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice, Kate Green, said: 

“We’ve listened to the public who have told us they want the police to be more visible in their neighbourhoods and to tackle the everyday crimes that blight communities. It’s therefore crucial that GMP has the officer numbers and other resources to enable them do the job you expect them to do. I hope that through this consultation process, the public will be supportive of our proposals.”

The public can respond to the police precept consultation at www.gmconsult.org by Wednesday 25 January 2023. The final precept needs to be agreed by the Greater Manchester Police, Fire and Crime Panel which is made up of councillors from each of the 10 councils and is chaired by a councillor.

Article Published: 11/01/2023 13:56 PM