March 2023: News from A&SPCC Mark Shelford

THANK you to those of you who completed my precept survey and shared their thoughts about my proposal to increase the policing part of the council tax by £15 a year for the average band D household.

A couple of weeks ago, the Police and Crime Panel supported this proposal to increase the precept.

This funding will help reduce the impact of Avon and Somerset Police’s funding gap, but will still leave a projected deficit of £3.4 million in the year 2023/24 and £7.10 million in the year 2024/25. 

Inflationary increases, combined with limited additional funding from central Government, have left a funding gap that, without the precept increase, would have resulted in significant cuts to police staff and services.

I know that many households are facing difficult financial circumstances. However, as your PCC, it would have been irresponsible not to address the policing service’s funding gap and help reduce this deficit while I had the opportunity.

We will be using the £3.4 million reserve funding to address the shortfall so that the chief constable has capacity to develop a sensible savings programme while still delivering an effective, efficient and legitimate service.

Moving on, I want to touch on the brilliant work that Avon and Somerset Police’s fraud and cyber protection team do protecting and preventing people falling victim to fraud.

The fraud and cyber protect officers provide training, advice and guidance to individuals and businesses across Avon and Somerset and, in innovative ways, make sure to get prevention messages to people who need to know them.

Fraud is so vast and there’s so much to consider when tackling this crime. Sadly, a high proportion of fraud victims are repeat victims. By providing extra support to these residents, the aim is to prevent future crimes. We need to continue to raise awareness about the different types of fraud and what to do if you’re targeted, to ensure everyone is resilient and resistant to scammers’ methods.

I also want to acknowledge the ongoing work of Avon and Somerset Police officers in keeping our roads safe. Last December, officers took part in Operation Tonic, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s winter drink and drug driving operation.

The force has recently published the results from this week of action, which reveal that between November 21 and December 31, 346 drink and drug drive arrests were made.

I am shocked at the number of people who, despite warnings from the police, got behind the wheel under the influence.

There is no excuse to drink and drive at any time of the year – by doing so, you’re putting your own life and others’ at risk.

Please do tell Avon and Somerset Police if you suspect drink/drug driving is happening, and help us keep our roads safe.