THE policing precept for North Wales - part of the force's funds raised from council taxes - increased by 3.69 per cent this year, following approval by the Police and Crime Panel in January.

That means just over £11 extra per year for a Band D property, but what does that money go towards?

We met with North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin, as well as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Wayne Jones, to find out.

Mr Dunbobbin said the increase was "by far" the lowest precept level in Wales, with some forces setting theirs between 5 and 5.5 per cent.

"We are being really active in keeping it as low as it can be," he said.

"We understand the cost-of-living crisis that people are experiencing.

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"As for what the public will be getting from that, we have 28 constables going onto patrol to maintain operational response levels, 11 tutor constables to develop new officers and a dedicated public contact team to broaden the range of available contact methods.

"We want to have three domestic abuse constables, two more intelligence staff to exploit front line intelligence gathering and a DI in Western CID to ensure effective management of local crime - really honing in on that local and neighbourhood policing."

He said maximising cross-border opportunities - such as with the Regional Organised Crime Unit - is an aim, as well as having two additional Professional Standards Department Constables.

North Wales Pioneer: Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin with Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Wayne Jones. Image provided by North Wales PolicePolice and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin with Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Wayne Jones. Image provided by North Wales Police (Image: Submitted)

"We want to see the development of the drone team as well," Mr Dunbobbin said.

"We're very keen to have another two drone Constables to try and use that further.

"There are also two Constables to go in and manage sexual and violent offenders in the Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit.

"We are getting civilian investigators and having their shift patterns aligned to CID as well, to bolster that investigative resource - and three more officers in the economic crime unit.

"We are looking to have some modern apprentices in there to bolster that financial abuse safeguarding."

Mr Jones added: "What Andy has gone through there just shows you how complex and multi-dimensional policing and crime trends have gone, particularly in the last few years.

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"The good thing is that we are trying to stay ahead of it and trying to mould the way the force delivers on the Police and Crime plan, while holding the Chief Constable to account."

Holding the Chief Constable to account and working to make sure residents get the most effective service from North Wales Police is one of the core principles of the office of the PCC.

Giving his thoughts at a parliamentary committee on Welsh policing recently, North Wales Police Chief Constable Carl Foulkes told MPs he had worked under two of the region's PCC's - and both understood the need for "operational independence" while holding him to account.

So, what does 'holding to account' look like day today when you're a Police and Crime Commissioner?

Mr Dunbobbin said there is a lot of work which happens behind the scenes to ensure improvements are suggested and taken on board.

"We have quarterly meetings with the strategic executive board," he said, "where we talk about performance and can ask for specific 'deep dives' into certain areas.

North Wales Pioneer: Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin with Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Wayne Jones. Image provided by North Wales PolicePolice and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin with Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Wayne Jones. Image provided by North Wales Police (Image: OPCC)

"The force has been very forthcoming with that.

"We have weekly management meetings to look at how we can improve.

"All of these things go on in the background."

One of the projects Mr Jones has been working on is setting up a victims' panel.

This is part of Supporting Victims and Communities; one of the North Wales Police and Crime Plan's three overarching objectives.

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The other two main aims are delivering safer neighbourhoods and a fair and effective criminal justice system.

Speaking of the victim panel Mr Jones, a former Detective Chief Superintendent, said: "We're still in early days with it because we want to make sure the way we set up the panel is absolutely the right way to go.

"We don't want to re-victimise people who have already been through the criminal justice system.

"We want to incorporate victims from all spheres and crime types so we can get a fully rounded picture of what their experience is.

"The main thing we want to achieve is to improve the service to victims.

"If victims don't feel supported, they won't come forward to report offending and it has an effect on how they see the police."

Mr Dunbobbin was elected the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales on May 6 last year - officially taking office around a week later.

He said he was "passionate about providing a public service" and vowed to "represent everyone in North Wales, regardless of their political affiliations."

Reflecting on his first year in the role, he said: "The time certainly has flown by.

"I think, to be fair, I was really well prepared for this.

"I knew it was going to be a tough appointment, but it's within my capabilities.

"What put me in a good position was that I prepared a manifesto - that was really important for democracy.

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"People need to know what they are going to be voting for.

"That formed part of the police and crime plan, which went before the panel and was approved in September unanimously.

"I think we should take confidence from that.

"It's been a really steep learning curve - the first few months were challenging but comfortable.

"And I am still an active councillor in Flintshire so I have been able to use my experience in local government.

"I have regular meetings with the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable and they have been really supportive.

"We have had challenging conversations, and that's the point really.

"We work through them and are constructive of each other.

"Just as we would challenge the force, the force can challenge up back - and that's healthy.

"It is done in a positive, professional manner because we know our shared goal is making North Wales the safest place to live and work."