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Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Lorne Green’s proposals for the 2020/21 Norfolk policing budget have today received the unanimous support of the county’s Police and Crime Panel.
The PCC took his proposals, which include an increase of 3.95% to the policing element of council tax (19p per week based on a Band D property), to a public meeting at County Hall this morning.
PCCs are responsible for setting the policing budget for their force area and, with it, how much local taxpayers contribute to funding their police service through their council tax.
Speaking to the Panel – which is made up of councillors and independent members – the PCC described that responsibility as ‘one of the most difficult parts’ of his role, saying: “It is not a proposal I ever take lightly. Like all of us, I am sensitive to the financial pressures on the taxpayers of Norfolk. As ever, it is my duty to balance the burden on local taxpayers with the safety of our county.”
He told members that extensive engagement throughout the year had taken him across the county, giving him the opportunity to explore public views on what Norfolk residents want, need and expect from their policing service. And that his five-week public consultation which ended last month had shown that, if they were to see more for their money, local people would be prepared to pay more.
“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. There are recurring themes throughout our county, including how we tackle anti-social behaviour, improve 101 call waiting times, and the impacts of mental illness and domestic abuse on policing demand.
“It’s also clear that the realities currently facing, and which will continue to face, our police force are very challenging. There are real and pressing needs beyond the additional officer numbers funded by central government. Without an increase in the precept, the Constabulary would need to make more cuts in key areas of its budget.
“As my recent budget consultation explained, even with an increase of 2% the Constabulary would be ‘treading water only’ to meet inflation-related cost pressures and would not be able to invest in and improve the broader services it provides to Norfolk communities. In response to that consultation, almost 60% of 918 people who took part said they would be prepared to pay more to help fund their policing service, and almost 70% of those would support a precept increase of more than 2%.
“I do understand, however, that no one likes to pay more for less. A 3.95% increase this year would enable me to provide additional funding of £3m to the Constabulary. This would not only meet inflation-related cost pressures but also allow us to invest in and improve services in areas such as mental health support in the police control room, additional resources for the 101 service to improve response times and receive calls related to anti-social behaviour, and domestic abuse safeguarding support.”
“I have taken into account all the feedback I have received and have concluded that the public safety of our county can best be assured through the budget proposed today – a budget which allows me to invest further in policing both now and in the future.”
The reports from today’s meeting of the Norfolk Police and Crime Panel are available to view on the Norfolk County Council website.