The TaxPayers' Alliance today releases the first thorough analysis of the spending by the Offices of Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales.
Among the key findings of the report, which contains information on all OPCCs, are:
- Total spending across all OPCCs in 2013-14 was £52 million, equivalent to the starting pay of 2,200 Constables. This is £2 million lower than the bill for Police Authorities in 2010-11, which were replaced by the OPCCs
- Despite the overall fall, however, some 18 of the 41 OPCCs are spending more than the Police Authority they replaced were in 2010-11, with Hampshire OPCC spending £1.8 million more in 2013-14 than the equivalent Authority did in 2010-11.
- Apart from Hampshire, the highest increases came in Cambridgeshire (£951,000), Dorset (£931,000), Surrey (£651,351) and Devon & Cornwall (£420,000). The sharpest decrease occurred in Northumbria, where savings neared £3 million.
Further, when the figures are broken down relative to the size of the jurisdiction:
- The amount spent by OPCCs per 1,000 residents varied between £624 (Thames Valley) and £2,979. If all OPCCs were as efficient as the Thames Valley OPCC, the savings would be over £29 million
- The three least efficient OPCCs were Cambridgeshire (£2,979), North Yorkshire (£2,725) and Dorset (£2,689)
- There were 94 staff managing the perception of OPCCs, including communications staff and lobbyists, with two OPCCs - Devon & Cornwall and the West Midlands - having as many as seven staff involved in public relations
When the posts of Police and Crime Commissioners were announced, Ministers assured taxpayers that the costs involved would not be higher than those of the Police Authorities they replaced. The new analysis by the TaxPayers' Alliance suggests that this is not the case for those living in some 18 police jurisdictions. Directly elected on a turn-out of just 14.1 per cent in 2012, the Commissioners will face elections next year.
Responding to the publication of the report, Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive, said:
"Taxpayers were told that the new system of Police and Crime Commissioners wouldn't cost them any more than the Authorities they replaced, but this research suggests that's not the case in many parts of the country. When the future of the police is being discussed in the context of a necessary savings programme, discussing whether we're getting value for money from the new Commissioners must be paramount. With potential savings of £29 million available, we have to ask for more efficiency from those who seem to be spending over the odds.
"Those Commissioners who have been empire building or stocking their offices with PR staff must be asked whether that money wouldn't have been better spent on bobbies on the beat."