Agenda item


The Police and Crime Panel is required to consider and formally respond to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Proposed Precept for 2023/24. The purpose of this item is to allow the Commissioner to outline her proposals in more detail and answer any questions that Panel Members might have.

Following consideration of the Commissioner’s proposed precept, the

Panel must either:

a) agree the precept without qualification or comment;

b) support the precept and make comments or recommendations concerning the application of the revenues generated; or

c) veto the proposed precept.


In accordance with the Police and Crime Panels (Precepts and Chief Constable Appointments) Regulations 2012:

(a) The Commissioner must notify the Panel of her proposed precept by 1 February 2023;

(b) The Panel must review and make a report to the Commissioner on the proposed precept (whether it vetoes the precept or not) by 8 February 2023;

(c) If the Panel vetoes the precept, the Commissioner must have regard to and respond to the Panel’s report, and publish her response, including the revised precept, by 15 February 2023;

(d) The Panel, on receipt of a response from the Commissioner notifying it of her revised precept, must review the revised precept and make a second report to the Commissioner by 22 February 2023

(there is no second right of veto);

(e) The Commissioner must have regard to and respond to the Panel’s second report and publish her response by 1 March 2023.




Lisa Townsend, Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner

Kelvin Menon, Chief Finance Officer (OPCC)

Key points raised in the discussion:

  1. The PCC introduced the item, emphasising the rising costs that the Force was facing, such as the vehicle fuel bill increasing by over £500,000 in the last year. Government grant funding for policing nationally only rose by 1.8% and therefore, PCCs made representation to indicate the shortfall of £0.5 billion for policing. The response from government was to increase the Precept cap to £15, rather than to increase government funding. The Force had a good record of delivering savings, however, it became harder to deliver more savings over time. Police staff could suffer from any potential cuts, and this would have a substantial impact, as they formed the backbone of the services provided. The consultation results showed that 57% of respondents were in favour of an increase of £15. The PCC explained that she had little choice but to propose an increase of the Precept to £15, which was equivalent to 5% and well below the current rate of inflation.


  1. A Panel Member noted that last year the Panel unanimously supported the £10 increase of the Precept and the staff vacancy rate increased despite this. The Panel Member asked whether this year’s increase would be spent on frontline policing or whether there would be another underspend due to staffing issues. The CFO explained that the high vacancy rate was a temporary situation due to the economy and labour market. There would not be an ongoing underspend, as the posts needed to be filled. If the Precept was not increased to £15, the money would be lost forever, and the posts would never manage to be filled. Officer pay would also increase by at least 2% and the Precept funding would help to address future financial issues. The Panel Member asked whether this was the right time to increase the Precept or whether there should be greater lobbying for increased government funding. The CFO explained that it would be good if government funding increased in line with inflation or the funding formula was revised so that Surrey residents got a better deal, but in the meantime, the Precept funding was required to maintain services.


  1. A Panel Member asked whether there were any more efficiencies that could realistically be made. The CFO explained that the medium-term financial strategy (MTFS) predicted the savings that had to be made to reach a balanced budget, rather than savings that could be made. It would be a challenge to meet the target and there would be a number of reviews to support the process. The last resort would service reductions in some areas.


  1. In response to questions on the staff vacancy rate, the CFO explained that in 2023/24 the vacancy margin had been increased as a tool used to balance the budget. Ideally, this would be reduced going forward as posts were filled. The plans to address this were at an early stage and the CFO could not comment on which areas would be looked at in 2025/26. This would be on the incoming Chief Constable’s agenda. The Panel Member asked whether this had an impact on staff morale. The CFO shared that it had not due to the message that it would only be used a last resort, however, reviews and transformation would be unsettling for staff.


  1. A Panel Member asked for assurance that standards would not be lowered when recruiting to meet the uplift target. The PCC explained that His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary published 43 recommendations in November 2022 in relation to vetting. At the time, the PCC went through the recommendations with the team and was reassured that the Force was in a good place with a thorough vetting process. This had been revisited due to recent national events and the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners were doing a lot of work in this area. There would be a data wash of all officers and staff within the OPCC. The PCC and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner had also been vetted, despite it not being a requirement.


  1. A Panel Member enquired as to how much the Band D Precept would need be increased by to avoid efficiencies which would adversely impact policing. The CFO responded that it was difficult to answer, but he would predict roughly a £34 increase over a four-to-five-year period. This depended on other factors though such as, demand levels and government funding.


  1. A Panel Member questioned which services commissioned by the PCC would receive less funding due to the £44,000 cut to the budget in 2023/24. The CFO explained that it was a small percentage decrease in funding, and it would not result in one particular charity or organisation losing out, as the projects that were funded changed on an annual basis. At the Panel’s next meeting, there would be a presentation on the commissioning plan for 2023/24.


  1. A Panel Member queried the ratio of non-police staff to police staff and how that compared with neighbouring authorities. The CFO explained that he would need to check following the meeting, however, he believed that the Force was made up of just over 50% police officers and just under 50% police staff. Some Forces had not gone down the route of civilisation and had a greater proportion of police officers. The benefits of the skill of police staff would be lost in coming years due to the national shift towards maintenance of police officers.


  1. A Panel Member asked how vacancies would be financially managed through requiring a 10% police staff pay saving at portfolio chief officer level. The CFO explained that the vacancy margin would be held at a corporate level, rather than allocating it to individual departments. This allowed more strategic decisions regarding recruitment, and which posts to fill, to be made.


  1. Cllr John Furey was unable to vote but noted his support for the proposed Precept.


  1. The Chairman put the recommendation to a vote. The recommendation was carried, with eight votes for, two votes against, and no abstentions.



The Surrey Police and Crime Panel recommends that –

  1. That the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Precept for a Band D property be increased by £15, from £295.57 to £310.57, in 2023/24.


Actions/requests for further information:

  1. R3/23 – The Chief Finance Officer to provide data on the ratio of non-police staff to police staff for Surrey and neighbouring authorities.


Supporting documents: