When asked which you want first, do you go for the good news or the bad?
Well, the good news is that, so far, it’s been a glorious summer. The bad news is there will be a reckoning.
Just like the saying ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’ the extraordinary weather has brought with it exceptional demands on the police which have to be paid for along with the inevitable knock-on effect further down the line.
Much as we have basked in the feel-good factor, the heatwave and the World Cup produced seasonally higher than expected demands on services. On top of that came the Royal International Air Tattoo and mutual aid involvement in the Novichok poisonings in Wiltshire and the visit of US President Donald Trump.
Rest days have been cancelled and annual leave requests put on hold. I heard that in a neighbouring force, one officer had his leave withdrawn for his wedding day and, although it was re-instated, many of his invited guests were unable to go because the time off they had booked was cancelled.
Needless to say, the Constabulary has stepped-up but we cannot rely on goodwill forever, and certainly not the Chief Constable who has to manage the knock-on effects.
Whether we like it or not, the Government now expects me, you, and the rest of Gloucestershire’s council tax payers to pay for any increases in police funding. The good news – for the chief at any rate – is that because funding increases have been devolved to me, I don’t have to wait until December for the smoke and mirrors in Whitehall to clear. Instead, it’s given me a lot more time to calculate a rise that is as fair as possible to council tax payers and will enable the chief to plan for what he needs to provide a service the public requires.
Over the next couple of weeks, my deputy Chris Brierley and I will host a number of surgeries around the county where our primary aim is to gauge how the changes to neighbourhood policing are working out. But if the NHS is worth an extra 1 per cent on tax, I would be interested in your views on how much more you are prepared to pay for a viable police force.