Police Commissioner defends office salary costs
12:01pm Friday 6th September 2013 in News
LOCAL Plaid Cymru politicians have expressed shock at figures showing that the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner is spending well over £400,000 per year on salaries of officials and advisors.
But the figures have been defended by commissioner Christopher Salmon.
The figures emerged following a Freedom of Information request from Plaid Cymru councillor Paul James. The Llanbadarn Fawr councillor has also discovered that £500 was spent on designing a new logo, over £1500 on new banners, and more than £3500 altogether on a makeover for the office.
This comes at a time when police budgets are being cut. It is estimated that there have been between 5-6% cuts in front line officer numbers, both across the UK and locally, since the last General Election in 2010.
Paul James, Plaid Cymru county councillor for Llanbadarn Sulien ward, said:
“I originally took an interest in the costs of the office of the PCC when in response to requests for funding for community projects, we were told that money was tight. I was shocked to find the scale of the spending on salaries and other costs. Just think, a few hundred pounds could help to maintain the CCTV system along the Llanbadarn to Aberystwyth path, which reassures the public and saves time for front-line police officers. The salaries of the Commissioners’ advisors and staff could fund dozens of these projects.
“Altogether, almost half a million pounds a year of taxpayers’ money in Dyfed-Powys is going on political assistants for the Commissioner. It would be much better spent on front-line policing.”
Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Ceredigion said,
“I’ve always been sceptical of the idea of Police and Crime Commissioners, but people will be astonished by these figures. At the time the Commissioners were elected last November, people expected that the public purse would have to fund their salaries, but did they really expect to be subsidising an entourage of advisors and officials? This money could be far better spent.”
Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon said: “It’s encouraging that Plaid Cymru are taking an interest in my expenditure. I welcome close scrutiny.
“Spending wisely is a priority for my Office and I’m happy that every penny spent is done so with great prudence.
“I urge residents of Dyfed-Powys to view the expenditure information on our website – www.dyfed-powys.pcc.police.uk. This includes my staff’s salary ranges and the regularly updated expense claims of me and my deputy.
“Through the website - and in other formats - residents can view my 2013-18 Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Plan which carries budget figures. These show that the annual cost of my Office represents a six-figure saving on that of its predecessor, the Dyfed-Powys Police Authority – down from around £895,000 in 2012-13 to £794,000 in 2013-14.
“A high standard of professionalism is another priority for my Office and it’s right that we invest in stationery and marketing material which reflect that. Such items – all sourced in Dyfed-Powys at competitive cost – are already being put to good use.
“Our logo was excellent value for money. Moreover, its creation offered a priceless experience to the Ceredigion-based winner of a student design competition which we were delighted to run. Her logo concept was taken to completion when we arranged for her to work alongside a Powys-based graphic designer.
“2012-13 marked a significant change to policing through the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners. My first few months in office have included some enormously important activity, including the recruitment of a Chief Constable.
“Through 2013-14, my key areas of focus include ensuring that support services for the police force are fit for purpose and that policing services best address the area’s geographical challenges.
“My aim remains to ensure that Dyfed-Powys Police is a sustainable, resilient and public-focused service that helps deliver safe communities.
“I offer the public a direct say in how we keep communities safe from crime and remain eager to hear their views on policing matters.”