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Annual police budget consultation launched

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Lorne Green, has launched his annual consultation on the proposed budget for policing across the county, setting out some of the key challenges facing the Constabulary in the coming year.

In consultation information published today, Lorne stressed the importance of protecting the gains made in keeping our county safe since 2016 and ensuring the police have the resources necessary to provide strong community policing, fight fraud, and tackle the scourge of domestic abuse.

The PCC is required by law to set the budget for Norfolk Constabulary and, as part of this, determine how much the people of Norfolk contribute to the policing element of the Council Tax they pay to keep the county safe.

To inform this decision, each year Lorne has consulted with people across the county to explain the requirements and seek the community’s understanding.

In a consultation that will run from Monday December 21 until Friday January 22, Lorne is seeking the community’s understanding for a policing precept rise of 5.68%, as allowed by the Chancellor in his spending review statement to Parliament recently. This represents the equivalent of 29p a week for a Band D property or 22p a week for a Band B property - the majority of properties in the county are in Bands A to D.

In seeking people’s views, Lorne has highlighted some of the biggest challenges currently facing policing, including the need for the Force to make £4 million of savings in the coming year.

PCC Lorne Green said: “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.

“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.

“We must not lose the gains that have been made to policing in our county over the past four years.”

In preparing for the consultation, Lorne asked the Chief Constable to come up with a costed plan that would maintain the level of policing services across the county and, importantly, enhance services in areas of particular demand – a tall order in an era of increased demand and growing complexity of crime investigation.

Lorne added: “In response, the Chief Constable advised me that we need the precept increase allowed by the Chancellor 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.”

“People across Norfolk continue to tell me that visible policing is a priority – they are right.

“I have championed that priority from the outset and, by the end of January 2021, there will be over 200 extra police officers in operation in Norfolk in uniform and detective roles compared to when I took office in 2016.

“I am pleased to note the Chief Constable has assured me that with the proposed precept increase he will also be able to commit to a further increase in community policing, ensuring more warranted officers are engaging with communities across Norfolk.”

Simon Bailey, Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary said: “I regularly hear calls for more visible policing and I also cannot ignore the truly shocking rises in domestic abuse that we are now experiencing, with over 25% of all crimes recorded now being the result of a domestic incident.

"We are also sadly seeing a growing number of victims of fraud, particularly amongst the elderly. Criminals, many who reside outside of our county, are increasingly using digital communications to scam victims out of their savings.

“A precept increase equal to 22 pence per week for a Band B property or 29 pence per week at Band D, will allow us to keep our current levels of service and tackle the new challenges that we are facing. I have assured the PCC we will establish a team dedicated to dealing with the most dangerous domestic abusers across the county.

"Additional proactive neighbourhood police officers will increase our visibility and target those offenders who cause the most harm to our communities. We will also further invest in staff with the expertise to tackle the growing volume of offences with a digital footprint including fraud.”

In previous years, the PCC has held consultation events across the county to hear the views of Norfolk residents. Restrictions on gatherings imposed by the coronavirus pandemic mean the consultation will, out of necessity, be taking place online this year, with all the information and a short survey available on the Norfolk PCC website.

Printed copies of the survey and consultation documents are also available for those who need them.

There will be an online Q&A session with Lorne and Chief Constable Simon Bailey on Tuesday January 12 which will be open to all, and Lorne will also be consulting community groups across the county.

The consultation information also highlights the improvements to service that previous precept rises have helped fund, from equipping officers with body-worn cameras and tablets, to a fleet of drones that help find missing people, track down hare coursers and prevent and detect other crime.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology has been rolled out across the county to track down suspects as well as investments in technology and trained officers to tackle the growing threat of cybercrime and fraud.

“These are enormously complex, time-consuming and demanding crimes to investigate, but no victim should be left behind. We will not let the fraudsters, the drug dealers and violent offenders win,” said Lorne.

“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.”

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