Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore is seeking feedback on his plans to increase Council Tax
As your Police and Crime Commissioner, setting the budget is one of my most important responsibilities and this includes setting the level of Council Tax we pay towards policing each year.
I must ensure that the chief constable has the resources he needs to provide an efficient and effective service, while ensuring that I use Suffolk taxpayers’ money resourcefully.
Later this month I will present my proposal for the policing part of the Council Tax to the Police and Crime Panel for its approval.
This year I am proposing a £10 annual increase (based on a Band D property – which equates to an annual increase of £7.78 for a Band B) – this will raise an additional £2.5 million for policing in Suffolk. The majority of this extra funding will be spent on a radical new investment programme for our control room (CCR), increasing capacity, improving the 101 helpline, as well as launching a new digital platform. With more officers and staff in the control room, call waiting times will reduce and a quicker response will be forthcoming because of better triaging of calls and handing enquires on to other agencies.
As always, there is the opportunity to make your views on my proposal known via our online survey. This year the survey runs until 9am on January 27 and it would be particularly useful if you could spend a few minutes sharing your thoughts – you’ll find the survey on my website, www.suffolk-pcc.gov.uk
I would never consider asking for more money unless it was absolutely necessary and I can assure you everything possible is being done to reduce costs. There continues to be a major savings programme within the constabulary which will yield economies of over £3 million next year.
Good policing and maintaining low levels of crime and anti-social behaviour is fundamental to having a strong economy which benefits us all.
For some time, there has been concern expressed by many of you that waiting time on a call to 101 can take too long. This issue continues to be raised in correspondence, online webchats and within public engagement sessions. Excellent communication between any emergency service and yourselves is vital – there can be no room for compromise.
This process is not simply about answering the phone since we need to know the issues raised are dealt with in a timely manner and waiting times reduced.
Subject to approval of my Council Tax proposal at the Police and Crime Panel at the end of this month the overall policing budget will increase from this year’s current level of £151 million to £161 million.
One particularly welcome piece of news is the government’s uplift programme means our force will be recruiting a further 72 officers next year, so by March 2023 year there will be more than 1,400 full-time police officers in Suffolk, which is considerably more than there has ever been since I was elected.
The extra funding from the Council Tax is vital if we are to make sure the 101 system is improved. My ultimate goal is to get a fairer settlement from Government to fund policing in our county – because when the funding from the Home Office and your Council Tax is combined, Suffolk is one the lowest funded forces per resident in England and Wales. We are still waiting for the funding formula work to be carried out by the Home Office but I have been assured a review will be completed by the next general election.
In the meantime, the money must be found from somewhere if this ambitious control room project is to reach fruition, so the precept increase is my only option.
I hope I can count on your support.
I completely understand many household budgets are stretched and any rise in taxation is unwelcome. However, failing to invest in our police’s control room could have some very negative implications – please complete our survey and let me know what you think, thank you.
-- Tim Passmore is Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk