HITTING BACK: Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley REKS20152403A-114_C
The TaxPayers’ Alliance this week criticised the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Surrey after figures reportedly showed it has spent £650,000 more than the abolished police authorities.
The data, obtained by Freedom of Information requests, placed the county fourth in England and Wales for OPCCs spending in 2013-14 compared to the police authorities’ costs in 2010-11.
For Surrey, this was an increase of £651,351, or 62.1 per cent. This is equivalent to the starting salaries of 27 police constables.
Overall, the report found that 18 of the country’s 41 OPCCs spent more in 2013-14 than the police authorities they replaced, with Hampshire OPCC topping the list, spending £1.8 million more.
Jonathan Isaby, TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive, said: “Taxpayers were told that police and crime commissioners wouldn’t cost 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.”
But a spokeswoman for the Surrey OPCC said the numbers did not take into account that the current authority had taken on more responsibilities than its predecessor.
She said: “The figures from the Taxpayers’ Alliance are misleading as it is difficult to compare the costs of the police and crime commissioner with the costs of the police authority directly – we now perform a number of functions not previously executed by the police authority. The police and crime commissioner is now responsible for the Community Safety Fund, which comes in the form of an additional Government grant. In Surrey, we received £710,000 in 2013/14 for this work.
“Given that the police authority did not perform this function, to fairly compare like with like, you must subtract this from our total spending. This brings our actual cost in 2013/14 down to £990,000.
“If you then compare this to the police authority’s spending in 2011/12, which was £1,050,000, you see that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey was actually £60,000 cheaper.
“We’re unsure as to where the figures provided by the Taxpayers’ Alliance have come from, as they do not match our records.”
The first police and crime commissioners were elected in November 2012 to replace and reform the police authorities by bringing a public voice to policing.