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PCC makes ‘tough call’ and increases policing element of Council Tax by 2pc

Norfolk’s Police & Crime Commissioner has increased the police element of the Council Tax by just shy of 2pc.

The rise equates to an extra 8 pence per week, or £4.23 per year, for a Band D property

Lorne Green told the county’s Police and Crime Panel today that the decision had been far from easy.

Lorne said: “This is not a decision I have taken lightly. It was an extremely tough call.

“I have heard the message loud and clear from the Chief Constable on the challenges he faces in light of mounting essential demands; however I am also very aware that it is no easy decision for taxpayers who are asked to bear an additional burden to sustain, and hopefully improve, crime prevention and fighting in our county. I have been mindful of both in coming to my decision.

“I said in the run up to the PCC election and have continued to say, that I would only consider increasing the precept if I was convinced the constabulary was driving out real and sustainable efficiencies and was exploring all options for further savings. I have been pushing the Force hard in this area and will continue to do so. By April over £30m of savings will have been achieved by Norfolk Constabulary; half of which through collaboration with our Suffolk partners. That is reassuring but that work must continue.

"I am very aware that the nature of crime is changing and the Force must adapt to meet each and every challenge. The skills and infrastructure required to investigate such serious crimes as child exploitation, sexual abuse and on-line fraud, are difficult, complex and resource intensive. This comes at a cost.

"However I have made it clear that even in tough times I want to try and improve the Force in areas such as police visibility and engagement. I also want to ensure our officers are equipped to stay ahead of the criminals to fight 21st Century crimes. To do that the Force must continue to innovate and explore all avenues. I will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account in these areas."

The Panel heard that the Commissioner had held a five-week public consultation asking whether the Norfolk Community would be prepared to pay 2pc extra in the policing element of the Council Tax or, rather preferred a freeze. Members heard that around 2500 responses had been received with respondents split 76pc to 24pc in favour of a 2pc rise.

Lorne said: "The view of the public was unequivocal; our fellow citizens, by an overwhelming margin, indicated they were prepared to pay more for their police force. I would like to thank all those who took the time to respond and assure them that their views count and their voice is heard.

"Over the past few months I have listened to the views of the community, the Chief Constable, key stakeholders and partners in the police, community safety and local criminal justice arenas. After carefully considering all the feedback I today proposed raising the Band D tax by £4.23 per year, or around 8 pence per week.

"I am under no illusions however, and even with this precept rise Norfolk Constabulary still has a mountain to climb. No-one can be in any doubt that the Force still faces extremely difficult decisions over the next few years. I am afraid that is the reality of the situation.”

The PCC launched his precept consultation on 10 November 2016. The consultation was originally scheduled for four weeks but the PCC decided to extend the deadline by a further week, to ensure maximum opportunity for people to express their views.

The increase was unanimously supported by members of the Police and Crime Panel.

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