Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore explains how your money will be used
Each year at this time, I have to decide what level the policing element of your Council Tax should be, which is one of the most important responsibilities of my role.
As your Police and Crime Commissioner, I must ensure that the chief constable has the resources he needs to provide an effective service, while ensuring that I use Suffolk taxpayers’ money efficiently.
The process this year is like no other because of the effects of the pandemic, so setting the budget for next year is therefore especially challenging.
Sadly, the economic scars caused by the pandemic will probably take years to heal and for many others the mental stress of bereavement and loss only compounds the feelings of anxiety and distress. The situation is very serious and I am very conscious of these difficulties as I work with the chief constable to set our budget for the next financial year.
To assist with the decision making, there is an online survey on my website – www.suffolk-pcc.gov.uk – which I hope many of you will complete. Your views are even more important during this time of national crisis. I am asking whether you would be prepared to pay an extra 30 pence a week, equivalent to £15 each year, for policing in Suffolk (based on a Band D property). 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 Tax-payer. I hope people will take the opportunity to respond to the survey and let me know their thoughts.
I completely understand this will be very hard for some to find this extra money when finances are so stretched – that’s why the decision is so difficult for me. Ideally, I would much rather not increase the policing element of the Council Tax at all. I’d like to explain why I am, very reluctantly, proposing to increase the precept.
The background is Suffolk Police remains the fourth lowest funded force per head of the population in the country. As PCC I must ensure the police are adequately resourced to face the challenges ahead.
The crime pattern is changing rapidly. Cases of reported domestic crime have increased significantly during the lockdown; levels of fraud and scams are higher and the work focused on eliminating County Lines and illegal drug use must continue. Nearly all crimes have a digital footprint and criminals are waiting to exploit any opportunities caused by the pandemic, so investment in fraud prevention is necessary.
The younger generations have been affected particularly hard by the lockdowns, be it due to loss of employment or disruption to their education. Providing extra resources to support youngsters to keep them safe and free from exploitation be it online or elsewhere, is also very important.
The other crucial matter is making sure the constabulary can continue building on the achievements of the last three years – the Kestrel and Rural Crime Teams, Serious Crime Disruption Squad and the extra work on domestic abuse backed up by the new perpetrator programme are making a very positive contribution to reducing criminality.
I believe my proposals for the precept address some of the major concerns the public raise with me, such as making it easier for the public to contact Suffolk Police and fraud prevention. It also ensures the constabulary is equipped to meet the challenges it faces.
Make no mistake I really would not be asking for a penny more from local taxpayers if I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary. In case anyone was wondering if a real effort is being made to be more efficient I can assure you there continues to be an ongoing programme of improving productivity and using our resources better which will make a contribution of nearly £2.5 million for each of the next three years.
Please complete the survey so I can consider your views which will help me when making this difficult decision.
To find the survey please visit my website.
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