‘I have no alternative’ to 6.8% precept rise, says police commissioner
Suffolk police and crime commissioner has made a forceful defence of his decision to up the constabulary’s share of council tax by almost 7%.
This Friday, Tim Passmore will ask the county’s police and crime panel to back plans for a 6.8% precept rise – adding an average £12 to the annual household bill but generating an extra £2.9m for the constabulary’s budget.
It follows the government’s relaxation of a precept cap, which had required a local referendum for proposed increases above 2%.
The loosening of the cap came as the government announced £450m for all forces – contingent on more than half (£270m) being raised from local tax rises.
Mr Passmore’s survey of taxpayers returned a 65.8% approval rating for the increase from 962 responses.
Meanwhile, this paper conducted its own poll, which resulted in just 39% of supportive votes from 264 responses.
Some of those in disagreement suggested money could be saved by merging Suffolk and Norfolk’s control rooms – a move Mr Passmore has opposed – or by cutting costs in his own office.
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But Mr Passmore insisted the PCC was more cost effective than the old authority system.
“We have already cut our budget from nearly £1.3m (2013/14) to under £950,000 (2016/17) while making levels of engagement, openness and transparency better than they were before,” he said.
“The Police Authority cost £100,000 more – and no one knew who they were.”
Mr Passmore contends that a 2% rise would lead to an £800,000 saving requirement next year.
He has lobbied for government funding to be proportionate to other counties, including Norfolk, where he said officers dealt with 12% fewer cases.
“If I want to maintain and improve policing, I have no alternative,” he said.
“I’m not prepared to sit around and let a serious situation get out of hand.
“Major savings would still be required if the precept went up by only 2%.
“The minister may have listened when I made Suffolk’s case, but it hasn’t been acted upon. The current funding formula is unfair.
“I’m sick and tired of this county being treated like a second class citizen.
“We’re one of the few net contributors to the economy and it’s time that was properly recognised.”