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Police tax could go up by a quarter

PUBLISHED: 21:14 30 January 2004 | UPDATED: 14:51 03 March 2010

SUFFOLK police bosses have today discussed introducing a massive, inflation-busting rise of 24 per cent in their share of council tax.

It is the only way they say they can increase the number of bobbies on the beat – something most people said they wanted in a county-wide survey.

SUFFOLK police bosses have today discussed introducing a massive, inflation-busting rise of 24 per cent in their share of council tax.

It is the only way they say they can increase the number of bobbies on the beat – something most people said they wanted in a county-wide survey.

The 24per cent increase, which was dicussed as one option by Suffolk Police Authority members today, would equate to an extra 50p a week for each household.

And only that rise will directly provide more officers on patrol.

Chairman Christine Laverock said: "More police presence was the top priority for members of the public and it could also be achieved by making other improvements in areas such as information technology which will help free up officers' time."

At the end of this financial year, Suffolk police will have more than 1,300 officers – it's highest number ever – but the three year recruitment drive which has brought in 200 extra officers will end unless extra money can be found.

At their meeting today, members heard two surveys completed at the end of last year, one of Suffolk businesses and the other of Suffolk residents, both found people were prepared to pay at least 12-15pc more to maintain police services in the year ahead.

Swift Research asked 400 businesses across Suffolk for their opinion and found that agricultural firms were the main objectors to an increase in council tax.

The police authority claims an increase of less than 12-15pc would result in cuts to services and Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter said: "If there are cuts that we could make that would not affect front line services I would be very happy to make those immediately. But any cuts we make will have a knock-on effect on front line services. Any cuts will affect performance."

Sixty seven per cent of businesses surveyed said crime had affected them, mainly by extra security and insurance costs, and 41pc of retailers suffered crime at least once a week.

Nearly seven out of ten businesses said police could do more, listing their priorities as putting more bobbies on the beat and tackling anti social behaviour. Six out of ten businesses were satisfied with the police's response to them.

A second market research firm, Mori, surveyed 1,000 Suffolk residents and found 56 per cent were satisfied with local policing – an improvement on their last survey three years ago.

However, when people telephoned police, a quarter thought staff were dismissive. Younger people were most concerned about rape and sexual assault while pensioners listed drug and alcohol crimes and burglaries as their priorities. Both sets of respondents mainly wanted to see more officers on foot patrol in their area.

The police council tax rise will be finally decided on February 23.

N What do you think of a 24pc increase? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk


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