Staffordshire Police chief Mike Cunningham: 'I need to recruit some new blood'
POLICE chief Mike Cunningham has indicated he will lobby the county's new police and crime commissioner to raise taxes in a bid to end a long-running recruitment freeze.
Mr Cunningham pledged to 'strain every sinew' to convince the elected commissioner that 'new blood' is needed in Staffordshire Police.
The Sentinel reported last month how the number of officers employed by the force has fallen to its lowest level on record as forced retirements under A19 rules and a recruitment freeze hit the frontline.
Recruitment would not stop overall numbers continuing to fall in the face of Government funding cuts, but it would stem the speed of reductions and bring new faces into the force for the first time in more than two years.
Save 10% off any cleaner ending 7p with this voucher
i.e. £99.97 would save you £10
All the top brands, Dyson,Miele,Siemens,Panasonic,Sebo,Numatic & more
Clean up with our Sring Cleaner offer
Print this voucher and hand in at any store to save 10% off any 7p pricepoint
Shop local and you can always get the belts etc from us as well so you arn't left searching for them.
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Saturday, June 08 2013
The chief constable's plea for a three per cent increase in the precept, the portion of a council tax bill paid to the police force, was controversially turned down by the police authority last year.
An elected commissioner will take charge of force budget and policy after elections on November 15, replacing the police authority made up of councillors and community leaders.
Mr Cunningham said: "The position I will adopt is that it is my responsibility to work with the resources that other people decide I have to work with.
"But that is not to say I will not strain every sinew to give my professional judgment to the decision-makers.
"No recruitment and A19 continue to represent a major strategic threat. If we follow the graphs it will be two-and-a-half years before we can recruit again.
"Make no mistake, it is a threat. And I would be shirking my responsibility if I did not make that clear."
Authority member Leigh Gotthard pointed out that the authority supported a precept increase last year – only for an obscure rule requiring support from a majority of the authority's councillors, not just an overall majority, to scupper the move.
He added: "I hope the commissioner will see that the need is now another year greater than it was and will bear that in mind."
Former magistrate and authority member Christine Edwards added: "The lack of recruitment is a real concern. No new blood is coming in and a lot of experienced officers are leaving. That has got to affect the force."
Staffordshire Police levies about 13 per cent of the total tax bill and a two per cent increase would add about 6p a week to the Band D precept of £177.61.
But Conservative county councillor Frank Chapman, below left, who will serve as chairman of a panel set up to scrutinise the new commissioner, said: "We can all suggest it's just a few extra pence a week for policing, or to care for the elderly or for cancer care.
"At the end of the day it simply does not add up, and if it does add up it is to an amount we cannot afford."