A 3.44 per cent increase in the cost of policing North Wales has been agreed – it works out at 17p a week for Band D households in the region.
The rise in the precept was unanimously approved at a meeting today (Monday, January 19) of the North Wales Police and Crime Panel in Conwy.
Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC said: “Its importance to the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of policing North Wales is vital as it is to the ability of the force to keep north Wales a safe place to live work and visit.
“That last objective is more challenging now than at any other time. Keeping the people safe has become the policing imperative.”
Mr Roddick pointed out that 2015/16 will be the fifth consecutive year of severe cuts for North Wales Police, with £19.6m having been cut over the previous four years.
He said: “Grants were cut by 18 per over the same period. All the political parties are committed to reducing the nation’s annual deficit over the next Parliament and we are told that we are only half way there.
“It is very likely, therefore, that cuts of a similar level will be made over the next four years as were made during the previous four years.
“Although inflation has been kept to a minimum in the budget itself, it is still a challenge. The cost of the national IT service, for example, has increased by 22 per cent.”
According to Mr Roddick, the force would need to cut a further £15.5m over the next four years.
The Commissioner added: “The front line has been protected as far as possible, but the more cuts that are made the more likely it is that they will affect front line services.
“In the meantime, there are new demands on the police, such as the increased terrorist threat, cybercrime, child sexual exploitation and the new victim’s code.
“The HMIC – Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary – report last year found that North Wales Police had identified the savings to cope with the cutbacks.
“Since then, of course, there have been further cutbacks but we are satisfied that we will be able to police North Wales effectively although it will be a greater challenge.
“I have asked the Chief Constable if he is able to cope and he has said that provided the precept can make up for some cutbacks then North Wales Police will be able to cope.
“In future, we will need to ensure we achieve even greater value for money and there is more work to be done in terms of collaborating more with other forces.
“A recent example was the alliance we have formed with Cheshire Police in relation to armed response.
“At a time when budgets are tight, strategic alliances like this makes a great deal of sense.
“Through innovative collaboration like this, we can continue to provide enhanced policing to communities across North Wales and reduce costs at the same time.
“I take my responsibilities very seriously and we have struck the right balance between sensible financial management and the operational effectiveness of the force.”