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Police chief to ask for fresh officers - but council tax may have to rise

Beat manager Claire Collins and James Bailey patrolling the streets of Norwich. Picture: Nick Butcher

Beat manager Claire Collins and James Bailey patrolling the streets of Norwich. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Norfolk’s police chief has said he will make a case for more police officers on the street, but it would mean a rise in council tax.

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

An extra £300m of funding was announced this week for the 2019/20 financial year, which could see Norfolk Police handed an extra £11.2m.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey said the nature of the one-off payment is “difficult”, but he will be urging the police and crime commissioner to raise the police element of council tax.

He said the £11.2m was “notional”, and depended on council tax rising by £2 a month next year.

“We have a pension deficit of £2.2m in 2019-20, and there are a number of other funding pressures,” he said.

Police officers patrolling Norwich city centre.  Picture: Nick ButcherPolice officers patrolling Norwich city centre. Picture: Nick Butcher

Mr Bailey added even if the police element of council tax rose by the maximum allowed, they would not be “anywhere near funding levels of 2010”.

“The challenge we have is this is a one year funding settlement,” he added. “That makes it really difficult.

“I am very mindful of the fact if I lock myself into a really significant uplift, if I don’t get the funding to match it next year I could be worse off.”

The funding announcement includes an extra £161m next year among the 43 police forces, and a £153m grant to help plug a shortfall in funding caused by pension changes.

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

Police and crime commissioners will also be able to increase the policing element of council tax to an extra £24 a year for a Band D property.

Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green said he will go out to public consultation in January over a possible council tax rise.

“There is a lot of work to be done rather intensely,”he said. “The first thing I must do is allow the chief constable to report to me what the real needs are in order to keep the county safe going forward.

“I want him to demonstrate to me he has exhausted every possibility to extract resources through efficiencies first and see where that leaves us.”

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

Mr Green added there is “enormous uncertainty” in central government, which provides “a large chunk” of the resources available to police.

“If we spend money one year it is not necessarily a one time cost burden,” he said. “If you have to buy an extra police officer you will have that officer for years to come. All we have is a settlement for the one year - the coming year.

“What I would like to see is, if the chief constable believes current resources are sufficient, I want him to put emphasis on community policing and visible policing.

“Public safety isn’t just a matter of enforcement, but assurance and reassurance that people feel safe in their homes, high streets and communities.”

Mr Bailey said he will “continue to exploit efficiency options because it is the right thing to do”.

He said: “The art will be finding a balance between putting more officers on the beat and ensuring our pro-activity to tackle county lines and violent crime, while investing in technology.

“This is welcome news and I will be encouraging the commissioner to raise the precept and presenting him with proposals which include an increase in police officer numbers and further investment in technology to further enhance our efficiency and effectiveness.

“I want to be able to give my communities the reassurance that we are efficient in tackling crimes which cause the most harm, but also providing a reassuring and visible presence.”

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