Council tax rise approval promises ‘major step change’ in fighting crime

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Tax bills are set to go up further after approval of an increase in the share of police funding.

The 12.7% precept rise follows last year’s 6.8% increase and adds £23.94 to average council tax bills.

In December, the government permitted police and crime commissioners to increase bills by up to £24 for a band D property.

From April, following approval by Suffolk’s Police and Crime Panel on Friday, the rise will bring the annual contribution to £212.76 for a band D property and raise £6.5m, which, along with Home Office funding and a one-off grant towards a rise in employer pension contributions, would boost the budget by £4.8m after added costs and savings.

Based on the chief constable’s recommendations, the money will fund another 29 officers, 24 investigators, a share of 45 staff with Norfolk, and investment in more technology and equipment.

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Adding together core central government funding, precept and specific grants, Suffolk gets 19% less than it received in 2010/11 in real terms.

The force currently deals with the highest case load per officer in the country, but receives among the lowest funding settlements.

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As of last September, the workforce comprised 1,146 officers, 671 staff, 72 PCSOs and 165 specials, before a restructure of neighbourhood policing then put more than 100 police officers into safer neighbourhood teams.

In September 2011, there were 1,211 officers, 842 staff, 157 PCSOs and 323 specials.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “The background of policing is one of enormous challenge – largely because of austerity, but also a funding formula which is woefully inadequate when compared to places like the Met.

“It’s no mean achievement for the force to be rated good by inspectors when you consider our officers have such a high workload.

“Suffolk remains one of the safest counties, but that’s not to say there aren’t challenges ahead.

“I’m well aware this is a hell of a big increase, coupled with last year’s rise, and I understand it will be very unwelcome news for some people, but it will enable us to improve detection rates and make Suffolk a hostile environment for criminals.

“In order to improve visibility, we need to have the resources.

“It won’t change everything but this is a major step change in the fight against crime.”

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