An increase in Sussex Police’s share of council tax would help protect 480 officer and staff posts, according to the county’s police and crime commissioner.
Last month Home Secretary Amber Rudd gave PCCs the power to put a maximum £12 a year extra on police force’s share of council tax bills, compared to the previous £5 maximum extra levied on Band D properties.
Katy Bourne, Sussex PCC, has announced her intention to go for the full permitted increase of 7.8 percent for a Band D household today (Tuesday January 9), and this recommendation will be put to the Sussex Police and Crime Panel next Friday (January 19).
Sussex Police was facing a £26.5m funding gap, which meant that around 480 posts would have to be lost by 2022, despite the use of £17m from reserves approved last September.
She said: “This is not a decision that I have taken lightly, but I believe it is the right one to sustain the local policing which is so important to all our communities.
“I will, therefore, be asking the Police and Crime Panel to consider the national and local factors informing my recommendation, and I will be looking for their support to protect 480 police officers and staff posts.”
Sussex remains the fifth lowest precepting police area in the country, while overall its police force has the seventh lowest net revenue funding per head of population. A number of factors have informed the decision such as an ‘exponential rise’ in the public demand on police services, criminal investigations becoming increasingly complicated with huge amounts of digital material to identify, secure and analyse, while the public want to see investment in more visible local policing, focusing on crimes such as burglary and anti-social behaviour, and also want to feel safe on the roads, in public spaces, and during the night-time.
Meanwhile Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recently acknowledged residents’ concerns about the changes to neighbourhood policing and the importance of community intelligence.
Mrs Bourne went on to explain that a consultation and her correspondence with residents showed that a majority of people in Sussex are prepared to pay more through council tax to support police services.
She said: “I have been lobbying hard to secure the best possible funding arrangements for policing. As you may have seen, the Government have agreed to provide the same level of funding to local forces as last year, as well as providing more for counter-terrorism and national policing priorities.”
She added: “As part of the policing grant announcement, the Government made it clear that an increasing proportion of policing costs will have to be met by local council taxpayers, and so they have allowed PCCs to raise the amount you pay through the police precept above the previous limit per household.
“I have, therefore, decided to raise the precept by £12 per year for an average Band D property. Combined with the £17m I have already authorised from our reserves, this substantially reduces the previously planned savings requirements up to 2022.”
Although a Band D household would pay £12 a year extra if the proposed increase is approved, households in lower bands would pay less, as would residents entitled to a discount.
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