The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner has said today that she will be asking for a £12 rise in the Council Tax (precept) for a typical household – this is the maximum now allowed by the Home Secretary.
Katy Bourne will be asking the Police and Crime Panel on 19th January to support her budget proposals, which she has said will help the force protect 480 police officer and staff posts:
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.
Sussex Police was facing a £26.5m funding gap which meant that around 480 posts would ultimately be lost by 2022 and that was despite the release of £17m from reserves that Mrs Bourne approved in September last year.
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.
Over the last two months the Police and Crime Commissioner has been asking the public whether they were prepared to pay more for policing. In her announcement today Katy Bourne said, “my consultations and correspondence with the public show that a majority of Sussex residents are prepared to support their police service through increased precept contributions.”
The other points she cited in a suite of key considerations driving this decision are:
- There has been an exponential rise in public demand on police services.
- Criminal investigations are becoming increasingly complicated, with huge amounts of digital material to identify, secure and analyse; and the threshold for prosecution is very exacting.
- The public want to see investment in more visible, local policing, focusing on crimes like burglary and anti-social behaviour and they rightly want to feel safe on the roads, in public spaces and at night-time.
- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary have recently acknowledged the public’s concerns about changes to neighbourhood policing, and stressed the importance of community intelligence.
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.
The Police and Crime Commissioner is accountable to the electorate for how crime is tackled in their area. However the Police and Crime Panel provide “checks and balances” in relation to the performance of the Commissioner. One of their powers is the ability to veto the Commissioner’s proposed precept by a two-thirds majority. The Panel is made up of Councillors from 15 local authorities within the region, plus 2 independent members. Committee papers for the Panel meeting on 19th January will be made public tomorrow.