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Precept - Why I'm asking you for more

Asking you, the residents of Dorset for more of your hard-earned money for the policing precept is not something I wanted to do. While I know £13 a year - £1.08 a month for a Band D household – may not seem like a lot to some people, I want you to know that I recognise it is more pressure on your household budgets and incomes at a time when everyone is feeling the pinch.

However, I want to be clear. While the government’s limit of £13 is the most we can ask for this year, in Dorset it is below what’s really needed to support the force in the work they are doing. Dorset is one of the least funded forces from the national government grant. We are second from bottom in the table of 41 forces, and frustratingly for me, that means a more significant proportion of the police funding needs to come from the precept.

This year, due partly to the rate of inflation now and throughout the past 12 months, we need £13 a month just to be able to maintain a ‘stand still point’. That’s why in my survey, I am asking if theoretically you might be prepared to pay more. The reason I am asking this is purely hypothetical. I want to be able to show the government that people in Dorset value policing and know our force is underfunded and needs more. Your views and support will help me demonstrate that our police force in Dorset needs more money from a fairer deal.

Since I became your Police and Crime Commissioner in 2021, I have been relentless in lobbying for a fairer funding deal for Dorset. I have called for the government to consider ‘seasonality and sparsity’ – how busy our officers are especially over summer, along with the size and rurality of the county. It’s frustrating for me to see the discrepancies in force funding across the country and know we need - and deserve - more. Just over half of our total budget comes from central government, which forces us to raise the remainder through council tax contributions – the policing precept. But for example, across the country the West Midlands police force receives approximately 80% of their funding from the government. When you consider the pressures Dorset Police deal with for much of the year due to the ‘seasonality’ in which we can see 13 million people visiting our county on day trips and 1.8million on holiday, it is plain to see why I’m fighting for a fairer deal. And I want to assure you I won’t give up, not until this disparity is fully recognised and rectified.

We are an ambitious force, and thanks to the hard work and dedication of our officers, staff, and volunteers, we overachieve in many areas. But the Chief Constable and I want to continue to progress with this work on your behalf, not stand still. The settlement we have been handed falls short of what we need to move forward and progress further. It means difficult decisions must be made, decisions we do not want to take but will have to in order to provide a responsible balanced budget. My top priority is to continue delivering on the seven year Police and Crime Plan which is working for the people of Dorset.

Dorset remains one of the safest places in the country, and I want it to be the safest. We are second in the country for the highest number of Rape and Serious Sexual Offence prosecutions, and we also have the second lowest number of knife crimes in the country this year. In 2023, Dorset also saw the highest number of officers it has had since the introduction of PCC’s. I know you wanted to feel more connected to local officers and am pleased to say 72 Police Community Contact Points have taken place across the county. This has enabled the force to maximise community policing, multi-agency working and frontline deployment. While this is a great starting point, I know we still have a way to go. I want to drive for consistency for all Dorset’s communities and it’s why I won’t give up my fight for a fairer funding deal for Dorset. This year we’ve also brought in more money than ever through successful bids which enable us to launch new projects towards the protection of women and girls against violence, as well as funding for initiatives to prevent anti-social behaviour. We’ve robustly tackled the issues of drugs with more prevention, treatment and tough enforcement with Operation Scorpion and Operation Viper. We’ve launched a range of rural crime initiatives including our Rural Mounted Volunteers schemes and have an award-winning expanded rural crime team who are cutting rural crime significantly with the cost of rural crime falling by 28%. But without more money from central government, we can’t progress. This money is essential as I believe that you, the residents of Dorset deserve a police force able to continually evolve and improve and remain ambitious for its residents.

I implore you to fill in this survey and help in my fight for fairer funding for Dorset. Use your voice to help shape the future of policing in our county. The results will assist in deciding how best to spend our budgets and enable me to continue the fight on your behalf for fairer funding. Completing the survey only takes a few minutes, and I thank you for taking the time to fill it in and hopefully share it with family and friends and colleagues.

I am honoured to represent the residents of Dorset and want to assure you that I do not take it for granted. I’m fighting to make Dorset the safest county for all of us and achieving a better funding deal is integral to that.

Take the survey here

David Sidwick

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner

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