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Police and crime commissioner Tony Hogg: 'I can halt police cuts'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 19, 2013

  • Tony Hogg

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The major decline in police officer numbers in Devon and Cornwall – caused by Government cuts and blamed for a recent rise in crime – could be halted. Police and crime commissioner Tony Hogg is still weighing up his budget proposals for 2013-14 with no word yet on whether the public will be asked to pay more for policing. But Mr Hogg, who published his police and crime plan yesterday , told the Western Morning News he may be able to maintain the current strength of 3,100.

"What we may be able to do is protect the numbers," Mr Hogg, who was elected in November, said. "If there is one thing people want to know it is that we are doing our damnedest to arrest the decline from 3,500 to 2,810.

"I think (Chief Constable) Shaun Sawyer has got a good idea that he doesn't want to go down to the bottom number. My job, with him, is to protect those numbers and that will be the basis for parts of the plan and the budget decision."

Devon and Cornwall Police has been faced with making budget savings of £50 million in the four years to 2015 to meet Government cuts.

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Police numbers had been forecast to drop by 700 to a low of 2,810 – a number last seen in the early 1980s. About 500 police staff were also expected to lose their jobs.

But while hundreds of police officers were being forced to retire, crime in the two counties spiked by 7%.

The pensions regulation, which compulsorily made officers retire after 30 years' service, was suspended last September after greater savings were achieved than had been expected – a trend which is thought to have continued.

Council tax Band D properties in Devon and Cornwall currently pay £159.66 a year for policing. Mr Hogg may choose to increase that by up to 2%, above which he would be forced to hold a referendum.

He also has the option of accepting a one-year Government grant to freeze council tax levels although the cash is not built into the baseline.

Meanwhile, the fledgling police and crime panel in Devon and Cornwall has complained of the "very short time scale" available to consider possible tax rises.

The panel, which is made up of local councillors and some independents, met for the first time in Plymouth on Thursday.

It is charged with holding Mr Hogg to account and has the key power to veto decisions, including over the appointment of the chief constable and the level of tax precept set for local policing.

But it has emerged that the panel's chairman, Devon County Councillor Roger Croad, had already written to the Home Office to complain about the lack of time it would have to examine budget proposals.

"The timetable leaves a minimum of just one week between notification by the police and crime commissioner of the proposed precept, and the deadline for the panel to respond," his letter said.

"The same period applies to the arrangements for a revised precept following any veto.

"This very short timescale appears to be arranged to allow maximum time for the commissioner, at the expense of the panel's time to respond, and does nothing to promote effective democratic oversight and scrutiny of the issue."

In his reply, Police Minister Damian Green conceded that the February 1 deadline for PCCs to announce their council tax plans was "challenging" but that he was "confident" it would be achieved.

Mr Green also said he would "give consideration" to how the process had worked and whether it should be revised in future.

The committee agreed that it would meet on February 8 to discuss the appointment of Shaun Sawyer as the force's new chief constable.

Mr Hogg's council tax plans will also be debated on that date.

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  • waynejkc69  |  January 22 2013, 3:26PM

    @Doitdreckley: Well now we are getting somewhere. You have a negative vote from someone but it is not me. \it is probably some over paid Public Sector or Civil Service employee who hates people like you raising the issue that low, rubbish pay includes those that serve, yet are financially ignored by the rich and greedy. An I only mentioned a figure of £19,000 to £22,000. I forgot about the higher paid greedy employees on £50,000 to £150,000 per year. Thanks for reminding me/us.

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  • Doitdreckley  |  January 21 2013, 8:55PM

    Wayne does not seem to realise that the public sector and civil service include low paid dinner ladies, street cleaners, caretakers, classroom assistants, job centre officers etc. It is a complete myth to try and con readers that all people in the public sector are earning £50,000+. That is the exception rather than the rule.

  • waynejkc69  |  January 20 2013, 9:15PM

    @Beeley. You have never asked the the Low Pay Commission (LPC) what they consider when they ' set ' the National Minimum Wage have you? Ask them. As for the Living Wage - which is what the Public Sector and Civil Service earn - this is set to make sure that those who earn it are so concerned about their own selfish existence that they forget the LPC have deliberately set the NMW too low. This means that any increase by the PCC will persecute those on the NMW more than those on the Living Wage i.e. the Police, etc. Those that think I am trying to being ' fashionable ' are obviously out of touch. The truth is always ' reasonable ' and ' fashionable ' is ideal of the naive.

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  • al111966  |  January 20 2013, 8:14PM

    Can Mr Hogg really halt the cuts? Probably not, does he need to? Not really, he just needs to identify those 'so called' Police Officers hiding behind desks doing what they can to stay off the streets. Crime rates rising? probably right seeing as the population is, crime will too. Try also looking at crime recording, then look at the met crime recording, you'll find a completely different level of tolerance and therefore different level of crime recording. You want an effective, pro-active Police Force? Start with effective, pro-active management not those that spend a few years here such as the last two chief constables who introduce loads of changes then desert their sinking ship for positions with HMIC or ACPO etc.

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  • DogsDanglies  |  January 20 2013, 10:47AM

    @waynejkc69: you say "How many people do you know have worked for cash? Have you reported them? This is a criminal offense.". Load of b*llux! You can pay someone in whatever you/they agree. Pay them in turnips if that's OK by the two of you. Any "offence" comes with tax declarations at the end of the year and their possible omission. DD

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  • Pingu007  |  January 20 2013, 10:30AM

    Droofguy: look at your council tax bill. There will be an additional amount specifically for the police, known as a precept. It's been increasing every year for, oh, as long as I can remember with no apparent corresponding improvement in performance. Even if our council manage to keep any ouncil tax increase minimal (the current plans are, I think, for no increase at all, the fourth year running this will be the case), you can bet that the police - and the fire service - precepts will increase yet again.

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  • SidneyNuff  |  January 20 2013, 10:29AM

    It says over fed, but OK, my mistake.

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  • Beeeley  |  January 20 2013, 8:16AM

    @sidneynuff You seem a little sensitive . Read the comment below mine, it starts by describing you as naive . Then mentions public sector etc .

  • SidneyNuff  |  January 20 2013, 12:32AM

    If only someone had said 'public sector, over paid and under educated' but nobody has. So who are you arguing with, yourself!

  • Beeeley  |  January 19 2013, 10:32PM

    There are some very predictable 'opinions' on here . Public sector over paid and under educated . What a bizarre and clearly foolish statement . No thought has gone into that comment , it's clearly an attempt to appear ' fashionable' and 'popular' . Otherwise why post it ? Doesn't make sense !!

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