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Police commissioner’s ‘most difficult decision’ looms over tax increase

PUBLISHED: 10:56 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:56 12 January 2018

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner. Picture: Courtesy of Suffolk PCC.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner. Picture: Courtesy of Suffolk PCC.

Archant

Almost 1,000 people responded to a survey asking whether or not they supported an almost seven per cent increase in the policing element of council tax.

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore will reveal the results of the survey – and his decision over how much to raise the precept – later this month.

A 6.8pc hike would add about £9 to the bills of Band B properties, but could boost the police budget by £2.1million for the next year.

In December, the government announced £450m of funding across all forces – but more than half (£270m) would have to come from local tax rises.

The lifting of a five-year precept cap, which required a referendum on any increase above 2pc, meant police could ask for up to 6.8pc.

Last Wednesday marked the deadline for responses to a survey gauging public opinion on Mr Passmore’s proposal.

He told people the government funding settlement had not taken into account inflation and additional policing costs, and that a 2% precept rise would still lead to an £800,000 saving requirement next year.

A 6.8pc increase, he said, would allow the constabulary to maintain visibility on roads, further invest in technology, improve the proactive capability of police to help combat drug misuse and youth gang violence, improve emergency response and enhance the effectiveness of safer neighbourhood teams.

Mr Passmore will present results of the survey and his plans for raising the constabulary’s portion of council tax at a police and crime panel meeting on January 26. The recommendation is expected to be published a week in advance of the meeting.

Mr Passmore said: “This will be one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make as police and crime commissioner.

“As a cash amount, it’s not a huge increase, but it’s yet another increase people face at a time of wage stagnation.

“I have to weigh the pain of a tax increase for those on lower incomes against the need to maintain Suffolk Constabulary’s effectiveness, at a time of increasing demand and changing patterns of crime, when our reserves are down to a critical level. I’m caught between a rock and a hard place.

“I will consider a range of options and my decision will be based on what’s best for Suffolk.

“I’d like to thank everyone who answered the survey.”

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