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Tax increase to fund police 101 phone service improvements proposed by crime commissioner

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A maximum £10 increase for Band D homes on the policing element of the Suffolk council tax bill is being proposed from April 2022 – with extra cash set to fund improvements to the 101 response service.

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore outlined his precept proposals for 2022/23 today as a public consultation launches.

It proposes the maximum £10 increase for the year for a Band D property – the equivalent of 19p per week extra. For Band B properties which are the most common in Suffolk, it represents a £7.77 increase or 15p per week.

Suffolk police and crime commissioner, Tim Passmore. Picture: JASON NOBLE LDRS
Suffolk police and crime commissioner, Tim Passmore. Picture: JASON NOBLE LDRS

Mr Passmore said that will generate an extra £2.5million for the service. £1m of that will fund existing commitments, such as pay and inflation costs, while £1.4m will fund improvement plans for the control room, which includes addressing concerns around the 101 service.

According to the PCC’s plans, additional staff will be recruited to take 101 calls, and manage resources responding to calls more efficiently. It will also create a ‘digital desk’ around online and social media contact.

Mr Passmore said: “Our funding from Government this year is just not enough, even with the savings programme already agreed.

“I need to increase the precept to maintain the level of service we currently receive. The full £10 increase for a Band D property will give us an extra £2.5m for policing in the county. Over £1million will be used to fund existing commitments, such as inflation and pay, which leaves £1.4m to invest in the control room.

“In all my public engagement, including the recent consultation on my new Police and Crime Plan, the one thing that came through loud and clear was the public’s dissatisfaction with the 101 service. It is absolutely crucial I address these concerns.

“I have worked closely with the Chief Constable to agree how the potential funding will be allocated. It is a difficult balance but one that I believe meets the needs of the council taxpayer. I hope people will take the opportunity to respond to the survey and let me know their thoughts.”

The public can comment on the proposals until the closing date of January 27, with the proposals then being presented to the Police and Crime Panel the following day.

The police 101 service has come under fire over response times in recent months. Figures for 2020/21 indicated an average response time of 15 minutes.

The issue was raised during consultation on the new police and crime plan, while Ipswich Borough Council in its response said that ‘the wait time is often 30-minutes-plus’, which has ‘led to a rise in residents advising councillors that they no longer attempt to report a crime to the police’.

Chief Constable, Steve Jupp said: “At a time when demands on policing are growing exponentially it is essential that the contact and control room (CCR) is properly resourced and equipped to deliver a high-quality service and ensure Suffolk continues to be a safe place in which to live, work, travel and invest. The importance of the CCR cannot be overstated as it performs a crucial service to the public and the Constabulary.

“As part of their inspection of Suffolk Constabulary in 2021, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Service identified a number of areas for improvement in the CCR that to address will require an increase in staffing. These include improving the assessment of threat, harm and risk in calls received, the deployment of resources and better identification of vulnerability.”

The survey runs until 9am on Thursday, January 27. To take part and find out more, click here or go to the PCC’s website.