A message from your Police and Crime Commissioner
You continue to tell me that visible policing is a priority for you as Norfolk residents. I have worked hard with the Constabulary to champion that priority and, by the end of January 2021, there will be over 200 extra police officers operating in Norfolk in uniform and detective roles compared to when I took office in 2016. We have strengthened neighbourhood policing by increasing the number of Beat Managers and Rural Beat Managers across the county to 104. We have raised our game, as I promised, to engage personally with communities across the county.
I have supported the Constabulary to maximise efficiency and effectiveness by equipping officers with the 21st century tools they need to fight 21st century crime. Today, every frontline officer is equipped with a body worn camera, both to gather evidence and to enhance their personal safety. We have an impressive drone fleet helping to find missing persons, track down hare coursers and prevent and detect crime. Gone are the days of officers using notebooks and pencils - our officers are now equipped with tablets to record evidence and send it back electronically to the police station allowing them to get on with the next job. We have put powerful resources on our roads through Automated Number Plate Recognition technology to keep Norfolk safe and to track down suspect individuals of interest. These resources have delivered genuine gains thanks to the support of police staff without whose hard work this would not be possible.
At the same time, we have concentrated our efforts and put greatly increased resources into protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities, and helping victims of crime back to a better life. The demands on policing have grown exponentially and the complexity of crime investigation increased enormously. Traditional crimes such as robbery and burglary are down; crimes of violence including sexual exploitation of children and adults are on a steep upward curve. Today nearly 25% of recorded crime is related to domestic abuse. Cybercrime, including fraud has gone through the roof. These are enormously complex, time-consuming and demanding crimes to investigate, but no victim should be left behind.
We can be proud that our police force has been assessed by national inspectors as outstanding for efficiency, and that we remain one of the safest counties in the country – but the hard fact is that none of this comes cheap. Norfolk Constabulary has done wonderful things, particularly in partnership with our sister county Suffolk, to make tens of millions of pounds of efficiency savings over the past decade. Yet our budget is still groaning under the financial strain as we absorb burgeoning high cost demands - such as a new three-year educational qualification for all police officers, an apprenticeship levy and increased insurance premiums.
Taking all of these financial burdens into consideration, I have instructed the Chief Constable to present to me a plan to maintain the level of policing services you have come to expect and, where possible, enhance services in areas of particular demand or threat to the safety of our communities.
In response, he has said a maximum rise in the police precept will be required to ensure that Norfolk Constabulary can continue to provide current levels of service and also confront challenges to keeping Norfolk safe, such as continued high demand associated with domestic abuse and rising reports of fraud.
The Chancellor in his November Spending Review capped the maximum precept increase at 5.68% for Norfolk. The Chief Constable has assured me that, should I agree this maximum rise, he will also commit to a further increase in neighbourhood policing, ensuring more warranted officers are engaging with communities across Norfolk.
Furthermore, the maximum increase will allow for additional resources to deal with those dangerous individuals involved in incidents of domestic abuse across our county, as well as resources to help trace those using new technology to scam Norfolk residents out of their hard-earned money.
Without this increase, the Chief Constable has informed me that we simply cannot afford to continue to deliver the police service that you have come to expect. The financial pressure this year is once again severe, with the Force having to find an additional £4 million worth of savings. If the precept is not raised, the Chief Constable has also told me there may be an impact on staffing levels within the Constabulary.
As your PCC, I want to be able to reassure every man, woman and child in Norfolk that you will continue to receive an excellent police service. I also want to be able to ensure job security for those who have helped protect us during such unsettling times, whether they are police officers or the police staff who are absolutely integral to providing and maintaining an effective service.
I fully appreciate these are really tough times for our Norfolk community, ravaged as it is by the continuing consequences of a pandemic. I know that the last thing you want to hear is a proposal for increased demands on your household budget. And yet, we absolutely must do all possible to keep our community, our vulnerable, our families, our young people, and yes, ourselves safe, while preserving the gains you, as Norfolk taxpayers, have helped us make.
Based on the information provided by the Chief Constable, I propose to increase the police precept by 5.68% in order to maintain current levels of the policing service you receive and to tackle the new challenges that the police are faced with going forward. A 5.68% rise represents 22 pence per week for a Band B property or 29 pence at Band D.
I would like you, as a resident of Norfolk, to tell me whether you agree with my proposal.
Before you complete the survey, please take the time to consider the words from Norfolk’s Chief Constable, Simon Bailey.