Call 101 or, in an emergency, 999.
Just six months into his term as Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Lorne Green, faces a big decision, and he wants the public’s input before he makes it – beginning with people in the Great Yarmouth area.
The Commissioner will launch the annual police budget consultation with a public meeting and Q&A session in the Town Hall this Thursday evening.
Lorne is inviting people to come and hear from Chief Constable Simon Bailey about his plans for policing Norfolk during 2017/18 and beyond, and to share their views on whether or not they would support a rise in the policing element of the council tax they pay.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner, it’s my job to set the policing budget for Norfolk”, Lorne said, “and, with it, how much Norfolk people contribute through council tax.
“60% of our policing budget is funded by the Government; the rest comes from tax payers. With such a significant contribution coming from their pocket, I’m sure all Norfolk residents will have an opinion on how that funding is used.
“Last year, the Government pledged to protect policing from further cuts to funding – a move welcomed by PCCs and police forces around the country. But, even without further funding reductions this year, because of previous austerity cuts, costs going up, and increased demand on our police force, including alarming rises in the reporting of child sexual abuse, rape and domestic violence, we face a £3.5 million budget gap for the coming year.”
The options upon which the Commissioner will be consulting range from freezing council tax at last year’s levels, to a maximum possible increase of 2%. The maximum rise equates to an extra £4.23 a year, around the cost of buying two cups of coffee, for a household in a Band D property. 75% of households in Norfolk are in bands A-C, so the majority of people would face an annual increase of less than this. Each 1% council tax increase generates £0.6 million; a rise of 2% would reduce the budget gap to £2.3 million.
“The consultation for my Police and Crime Plan found that, while people understand the financial pressures on our Constabulary, they want to see improvements in their police service. They want the police to be more visible in their local area and to engage better with communities. They also want more efficient investigation of crime and for the most vulnerable in our society to be protected. All of this poses additional challenges in the context of austerity and the current financial outlook.
“I applaud our police force for having made £30 million of savings in the last six years. I think we can still do more. The Chief Constable appreciates that I will be pushing our police force to continue to find more efficient ways of working, and to identify further savings to help bridge the funding gap.
“The fact remains, however, that efficiency savings will only go so far. The Chief Constable has stated categorically that, without a council tax increase, he will be left with no choice but to make further cuts to service, which will very likely affect neighbourhood policing.
“I know how important neighbourhood policing is to the people of Norfolk so I’m reaching out to them for their views to help me make a decision.”
The Commissioner will launch the four-week budget consultation as part of his regular public meeting with the Chief Constable. The meeting on Thursday 10 November will be held at Great Yarmouth Town Hall, beginning with a public question and answer session at 5.30pm.
Following the launch of the consultation, the Commissioner and Chief Constable will begin their regular policing accountability session for which members of the public are very welcome to stay. Items on the agenda include updates on the Athena IT system, mobile devices and body worn video, police performance and spend against the policing budget. The agenda and reports for this are available here.
The budget consultation will close on Friday 9 December. As well as holding a series of public engagement events between now and then, the Commissioner will be gathering views through an online survey which will be live from Thursday 10 November.
The Commissioner will present his budget proposals for 2017/18 to the Norfolk Police and Crime Panel on 2 February. Panel members have the power to veto the Commissioner’s proposals.