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Pay an extra £15 per year for 24-hour police service based in Driffield

Could Driffield see the return of a round-the-clock police officers being based in the town?

This plan would become a reality should Humberside’s Police and Crime Commissioner be given the green light to go ahead with his preferred option as he makes an increase to the annual police precept of residents’ council tax.

Option 2 on the 2023/24 police funding survey, which is currently open for the public to have their say, would see the precept increase by £14.99 per year, or 29p per week on a Band D property, as well as an additional £15 million from Humberside Police’s reserves to ensure planned improvements could take place.

Option 1: An increase of £9.99 per year (19p per week) on a Band D* property which would also require £20m extra funding from reserves.
Option 2: An increase of £14.99 per year (29p per week) on a Band D* property, which would also require £15m extra funding from reserves.
Option 3: An increase of £19.99 per year (38p per week) on a Band D* property, which would enable planned improvements to be further enhanced. This option would require a public referendum.

One of the improvements that Humberside Police’s Chief Constable, Lee Freeman, has promised Jonathan Evison is to continue placing 24-hour response teams in every town in the force area.

And this pledge would include the return of a 24-hour policing team to the police station on Wansford Road in Driffield.

An additional boost to the Capital of the Wolds and its surrounding area should the £14.99 increase go ahead would see it retain a PCSO in each ward, whilst the number of dedicated community police officers working alongside the PCSOs would increase.

The Rural Task Force, based at Driffield police station, would be enhanced to include one sergeant and eight constables.

The news of a potential increased police presence in Driffield comes just weeks after safety fears were raised in the wake of a serious assault on Exchange Street during late November.

The incident, which saw a man seriously assaulted, suffering head injuries that hospitalised him, led to questions about the numbers of police in the town, with some stating the rising issues of drug misuse and antisocial behaviour is making the town an unsafe place.

Driffield.

Driffield’s three East Riding of Yorkshire ward councillors wrote to Mr Evison and asked for his comments on the attitude of police towards drugs and violence in Driffield.

There was also a debate on BBC Radio Humberside about issues facing the town after mid-morning presenter David Burns opened the phone lines to listeners, with Chief Constable Freeman tweeting that the issues would be reviewed.

Chief Superintendent Christine Wilson also reassured residents that officers would remain visible and accessible in the community in the aftermath of the incident.

Driffield town clerk Claire Binnington said: “Despite being told two years ago when our two PCSOs were relocated to Hull and Hornsea that the decision ‘wasn’t about money’, clearly, every decision is about money.

“So, now, if the people of Driffield agree to pay a little more then they will get a 24-hour policing team based in their town to cover our Neighbourhood Policing area, and increase the number of community officers.

“Well, we should never have lost our two PCSOs in the first place, however we cannot wait to get them back along with a 24-hour team.

“We would be very interested to know exactly what a 24-hour team actually means in reality seeing that we have been assured after the recent incidents in the town that actually, there isn’t a lot of time where there isn’t policeman close by.

“Also, if there is a team based at Driffield Police Station then it would be also be great if the station could open more often than it does.

“As a council who also has to set a yearly precept, we really appreciate how difficult it is especially if services are to be maintained but also preferably improved and expanded upon and we would fully encourage residents to take part in the survey and get their opinions heard.”

The survey launched on 22nd December, with Mr Evison asking residents to give their views on police funding for 2023/24.

The government imposes a duty on the Police and Crime Commissioner to consult the public about how much is added to council tax bills to contribute towards the costs of ensuring Humberside Police can operate effectively.

Around 70 per cent of police funding comes from central government and the remainder is raised through a portion of council tax known as the policing precept.

Figures quoted by the government when it released its public funding announcement on 14th December assume that PCCs will take full advantage of raising the precept by the equivalent of £15 on a Band D property.

“In recent years Humberside Police have made great progress in improving the service it provides to our communities, resulting in this November’s announcement from His Majesty’s independent Inspectorate that the force had been graded outstanding in most areas of its operations,” said Mr Evison.

“A significant part of this improvement has been down to sound financial planning and managing the budget available to us through central government funding and the council tax precept.

“The number of police officers has risen to around 600 more than the low point in 2016.

“When we include the government’s additional uplift there are now 2,135 officers in the force, the highest number for over a decade and communities have told me they are seeing ongoing improvements in the service.

“In December the largest-ever intake took place with 78 new officers being welcomed to the force.

“Added to the increased numbers of police officers is one of the best performing call centres in the country, new teams to tackle issues such as rural crime and police officers returning to neighbourhood bases in police stations which had previously been understaffed.

“Of course, things are never perfect and there is a strong desire to improve the service even further for the public we serve, we all want to see a more visible police presence, more action to prevent and reduce crime and protect the most vulnerable people in our society, from children to the elderly.

“However, the present financial climate has seen increased pressure on every one of us and policing is not exempt from that, there are still challenging savings targets to be met, significant pay and utility inflationary pressures and we must plan our finances not just for the coming year, but five years ahead.

“I will be working with the Chief Constable to ensure Humberside Police delivers an effective service to our residents without any disruption to the service and policing is not just about officers, our civilian staff are equally as important to the running of the service, whether as PCSOs, custody officers, control room call handlers and dispatchers, or a myriad of other roles dedicated to keeping you safe.

“For the next financial year in 2023/24, if we are to stay on track with our improvements, I will need to make a small annual increase to the policing precept of your council tax in line with government recommendations.

“Even with this increase, there will still be a requirement to draw down further monies from our financial reserves to achieve the planned improvements.

“My preferred option, based on a Council Tax Band D property is an increase of £14.99 over the whole year, equivalent to 29p per week, but I would like to hear your views.”

The majority of properties within the Humberside Police area are in lower council tax bands than D, on which the government bases its financial forecasts.

Thirty-four per cent of households are in Band A, 21 per cent are in Band B and 16 per cent are in Band C.
Therefore, for the vast majority, the proposed increases are smaller than £14.99.

“Any increase is unwelcomed in these challenging times but for the equivalent of just a few pence per week we can maintain the number of police officers and continue the improvement in Humberside Police that will benefit everyone and keep us safe,” added Mr Evison.

“As a resident and taxpayer, myself, I want to know what I’m getting for my money, I think it’s only fair that I provide an illustration of what this increase would provide.”

Humberside Police has said should the £14.99 increase go ahead, it will increase the number of police officers in its Roads Policing Unit to increase patrols, visibility and capability to target officers who reduce safety on the roads.

It will also ensure its new Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Teams can be fully resourced in 2023, without reducing officer numbers elsewhere.

Additional officers will also be invested into local CID teams which Humberside Police says will improve the ability to investigate more crimes and provide a service that increases public trust and confidence in their local force.

“In this survey I am asking if you would support an increase in council tax precept in line with the above amounts (in panel at top of page) and which of the three options you prefer, or whether you prefer no increase at all,” said Mr Evison.

“You will also be asked which areas of policing are the most important to you.”

To complete the survey, visit survey.alchemer.com/s3/7157145/Police-Funding-2023-24 before 5pm on Friday 20th January.

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