Commissioner hits out at budget claim

Shaun Wright, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner.
Shaun Wright, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner.
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South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner has hit back at claims his post is costing more than the authority it replaced.

Shaun Wright, who was elected into the new position in November, has rejected claims in a report by MPs that the commissioner and his office is proving more expensive than the cross-party body – the Police Authority – he replaced.

The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee claims the cost of the commissioner’s office this year will be £3.14 million, more than the authority used to.

However, Mr Wright disputes the accuracy of the figures, claiming the budget for the year is £2.035 million, and any other figure quoted in the report by MPs includes elements for which direct comparisons with the police authority cannot be made.

Mr Wright said: “The section of the report suggesting the cost of my office for 2013/14 is more than the police authority budget 2012/13 is simply not correct. While I recognise the value of the work of the committee, it does frustrate me when they present information that is inaccurate.

“My office was not given the opportunity to validate the figures prior to the report being published. In my mind this suggests a lack of precision and robustness in their information gathering .

“The correct office of the commissioner budgeted costs are £2.035 million – £200,000 less than the police authority budget.

“The £3.14 million published in the report includes other budgeted costs, which are not valid for comparison purposes.

“A budget of £2.035 million also changes the percentage of the OPCC budget from the overall policing budget for South Yorkshire to 0.91 per cent, rather than 1.24 per cent stated in the report.”

Police and crime commissioners were introduced in November with a remit to ensure police forces meet the needs of residents.

They have the power to hire and fire chief constables and set policing budgets and priorities.

Mr Wright said his role is to ‘bring communities closer to the police’.