I was the only member of the public at an historic Bedfordshire Police & Crime Panel meeting yesterday evening. The Bedfordshire PCC, Olly Martins, presented his proposal to increase the police precept by 15.8%. His core argument in support of this proposal was that it would help “bring back community policing”.
After questioning and an adjournment to consider his proposal, the Panel decided not to veto his plan, instead unanimously voting in favour of a supportive yet cautionary motion. The Panel expressed an understanding of the budgetary pressures on the force, noted the PCC’s proposals, and urged him to produce a plan to convince the public of their merit. The Panel in particular wanted a clearer statement of how the extra money raised would be used to improve performance. There were detailed questions about where the “100 extra officers” promised through this extra funding would be deployed.
This absence of Panel veto means that Bedfordshire will now have a pan-county referendum on Thursday, May 7th – the same day as the General Election. The referendum will determine whether the 15.8% increase in precept goes ahead.