KIM McGUINNESS PCC: Two options on survey as we look to pay for cost of policing in Northumbria force area

This month I’m running a survey asking you how you’d feel about a 56p a month police precept increase – to help cover the rising costs hitting Northumbria Police hard.

I hate that I am even having to ask you, the people of Sunderland, with your own rising electricity costs and Christmas presents to buy - if you’ll pay more local tax to cover policing. It shouldn’t be like this - but it is. And this is all because Government budgeting assumes an increase in the police precept can cover its own financial shortfalls. To me, this is not ok, however, our urgent calls for fairer police funding remain unanswered and with fewer funds coming our way, we have to find the money from somewhere. Northumbria Police is more reliant than ever on these local taxes.

Like everything else, policing comes with a price tag, and it’s going up. I’ve written to the Home Secretary calling for additional funding to help deliver vital public services. I want her to look beyond balancing the books, to listen to the boots on the ground and help the families they’re serving. I’ve heard nothing back. I’m sensing there’s denial about how dire things are. Inflation and other cost increases mean the force needs to find more than £8m in savings. This figure would rise to £12 million if the public doesn’t back a rise in the precept. This is serious money. Money desperately needed to fight and prevent crime in our area.

Here are the options:

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Option 1 is a 6.5% increase. This would equate to 56p per month for a Band A property (equal to £6.67 per year). This would prevent deeper cuts to police budgets.

Option 2 is no increase in the police precept. This would be the equivalent of a cut to the police budget. Northumbria Police would have to find an estimated £4m in additional savings, on top of the £8.5m already needed. The force would be required to make changes to service delivery to account for these rising costs.

It goes without saying, without investment, tough choices to reduce policing will have to be made and none of us want that – it’s the last thing we need here in the North East. Every day I meet mums and dads, business owners, teachers, bus drivers – everyone is telling me we need more officers on the streets and more people on the end of the phone when you dial 999. The reality though, is that any increase to the finances will just help absorb ongoing cost pressures.

So, just in the same way that Government has a choice when it comes to how much it’s paying for policing, the people of our area need to be given a choice with how much they pay too. Especially, after a decade of austerity which saw their police force suffer some of the biggest cuts in the country and the biggest fall in officer numbers. The survey, which can be completed via my website ( is about capturing your thoughts and views. I am here to listen and will review all consultation feedback carefully. We are in a very difficult position, with a lot at stake, but will keep doing our best with what we have and I will certainly keep fighting for more for our region.