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Council tax could rise by £24 a year to fund more police officers

Norfolk police and crime commisssioner Lorne Green.
 Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk police and crime commisssioner Lorne Green. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

Norfolk’s police chief has said freezing council tax next year would “inevitably” lead to fewer police officers.

Police officers Charlotte Trett and Matt Fiske on patrol in Yarmouth.
Picture: Nick ButcherPolice officers Charlotte Trett and Matt Fiske on patrol in Yarmouth. Picture: Nick Butcher

It comes as commissioner Lorne Green is considering raising the police precept by up to £24 a year.

The government announced last month a one-off £300m funding allowance for forces across England and Wales, including the ability to raise council tax again.

Last year, Mr Green hiked the police precept by more than 5pc, which allowed recruitment of 17 officers.

Chief constable Simon Bailey has told Mr Green a freeze would “lead to police officer and staff reductions”, but an increase of £24 for a Band D property could mean 40 new officers.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve AdamsChief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve Adams

Norfolk Constabulary could benefit from £11.2m of the funding settlement if council tax were to rise, as the force looks to make £10m of savings and close a £2.2m pension deficit.

“I recognise the financial situation for policing continues to be extremely challenging,” said Mr Green.

“The nature of crime continues to change and is becoming more complex.

“It is important to be clear that, before I even consider raising the policing element of the council tax, I have to be absolutely sure that the force continues to drive efficiencies at every turn, including from collaboration and partnership working.

“The chief constable has told me that a precept freeze would, inevitably, lead to police officer and staff reductions. He has also said that, were I to raise the council tax by the maximum amount of 46 pence a week, this would allow significant investment in the force, including the addition of 40 extra officers. I would urge people to listen to what the Chief Constable has to say before having their say.

“To help inform my budget decision, I would like to know your views. Some 56pc of Norfolk’s policing budget is funded by central government, meaning your council tax makes up the rest - so I want all Norfolk residents to have the opportunity to have their say.”

Norfolk residents are being asked whether they would be prepared to pay more for policing in Norfolk.

If they support an increase, taxpayers are being asked how much they would be prepared to pay. The options being presented are up to an extra 15 pence per week, an extra 31 pence per week or an extra 46 pence per week.

The implications for each option, based on a Band D property, are outlined as:

·Without a precept rise, there will be no opportunity for investment and the force will also have to find savings equivalent to approximately 90 officers.

·An increase of 15 pence a week (£8 a year) would not offer any opportunity for investment in officer numbers or technology, and would still require further savings to be found equivalent to at least 45 officers.

·An increase of 31 pence a week (£16 a year) would maintain the rollout of the 2020 policing model, but only provide very limited opportunity to increase officer numbers or invest in technology.

·An increase of 46 pence a week (£24 a year) would enable significant investment in the frontline, with an increase of 40 officers. It would provide an opportunity to invest in technology, enabling officers to spend more time on patrol, respond quicker and be more visible.

There will be an early chance to give your views when the PCC and Chief Constable Simon Bailey answer questions from the public at their first Q&A session of 2019. Lorne will host the event at The Forum in Norwich on Wednesday 9 January to give people the opportunity to share views, issues or concerns about crime and policing in their area.

The full consultation document and online survey can be found at www.norfolk-pcc.gov.uk. The consultation will run from January 2 to 30.

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