Great Value

Today the Taxpayers’ Alliance publishes an analysis of Police and Crime Commissioners’ office costs.

What does the headline say? PCCs cost more.

What does the article say? Over half of PCC offices, 23 of 41, cost less. Overall they cost £2m less than the police authorities they replaced.

That is on top the fact that PCCs do more than police authorities. They commission victims’ services, which used to be done by the government. They pay for restorative justice, which didn’t used to be done at all.

Police and Crime Commissioners have saved money. I can’t explain the dark arts of journalism but I can at least explain my own work.

It is easy to be cheap. I don’t want to be cheap. I spend around £100m a year on behalf of the public. This is an important job that needs to be done well. And, done well, it keeps the police on track and saves money. Quality matters. That is the measure of great value.

My office will cost 5.7% less in 2015/16 in real terms than the police authority cost in its last full year (2011/12). It will cost £969,000 in 2015/16. In today’s prices it cost £1,027,635 in 2011/12.

What does it deliver? In a phrase, it delivers better rural policing. Crime and antisocial behaviour are down 4% since 2013. We have more officers spending more time on the beat for £8.8m less. How?

We put more into analysing police performance and crime trends. That has enabled us, for example, to pin down police mis-recording of crime as antisocial behaviour and fix it. Better scrutiny makes for better decisions.

We put more into communicating with and listening to the public. We have surveys to understand public attitudes to police policies, from firearms to road safety to rural crime. If you don’t understand public concern you can’t improve.

We invest more in support for victims, whether of antisocial behaviour, domestic abuse or traditional crime.

The office itself does more, for example managing the police estate. That has enabled me to save £3.1m from terminating the expensive Ammanford PFI. It means a tighter grip of major investments.

We put more into financial management. That means I can ensure that every penny of the £100m I spend is spent wisely. It means we will deliver more for less.

All of that goes to protecting homes and families. And if I do more, how do I cost less? Because I cut senior salaries and expenses and made space for a fresh blood and fresh ideas.

Elections for the next police and crime commissioners next May will be a big fight for the future of communities across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Powys. The public will test the measure of their candidates.

I look forward to defending the reassuringly good value of this one. We will know the verdict on May 6th next year.

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