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05
FEB
2019

Unanimous Panel support for police budget proposals

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Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Lorne Green’s proposals for the 2019/20 Norfolk policing budget received unanimous support from members of the county’s Police and Crime Panel today.

The PCC took his proposals, which include an increase of 46 pence per week to the policing element of council tax (based on a Band D property), to a public meeting at County Hall this morning.

Having run a four-week consultation at the start of the year, the PCC told Panel members that those who took part had made their views clear – they would be prepared to pay more to support their policing service but they wanted to see more for their money.

1,172 people took part in the 2019/20 police budget and council tax consultation. More than two thirds of participants said they would pay more for policing, with 70% of those saying they would support the maximum increase of 46 pence per week or £24 per year.

“It is my duty to balance the burden on local taxpayers with the safety of the county”, PCC Lorne Green told the Panel – which is made up councillors and independent members.

“It is not a decision I ever take lightly”, he added, “and I remain sensitive to the financial pressures on the taxpayers of Norfolk. But I have heard loud and clear from the men, women and children of our county that not only do they want crime to be prevented and the law upheld, they also want the assurance that comes from visible policing, from neighbourhood policing.

“The Chief Constable has said that a precept freeze for 2019/20 would, inevitably, lead to significant savings needing to be found; savings equivalent to approximately 90 officers.

“An increase in the policing element of council tax in the region of 31 pence per week is needed for the Force to stand still while maintaining the roll-out of the Norfolk 2020 policing model, but there would be very limited opportunity to increase officer numbers or invest in technology.

“No-one likes to pay more for less. I have heard our Norfolk community say in convincing numbers that they are prepared to pay more for policing but they want to see more policing for their money.

“The budget I propose today – which is built on a 46 pence per week police council tax increase at Band D – allows significant investment in the frontline, with an increase of 40 officers. It provides an opportunity to further invest in technology, such as drones, but more particularly in technology which will enhance the Constabulary’s digital forensic capability to investigate crime more efficiently and effectively.

“With what I am proposing today there will be more fully-warranted officers in Norfolk than when I took office in 2016 and a greater number of people dedicated to county policing activity than we had immediately before the loss of the 150 PCSO positions.

“I have taken into account the feedback I have received from Norfolk’s communities, Norfolk Constabulary, key organisations and partner agencies and I 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 in policing both now and in the future.”

  • Read in full the PCC's words to Panel

    Chairman, Panel Members, you will have heard me say before that setting the policing budget and making the decision whether to raise the policing element of people’s Council Tax is one of the most difficult parts of my role.

    It is not a decision I ever take lightly.

    I remain sensitive to the financial pressures on the taxpayers of Norfolk when coming to my decision.

    As ever, it is my duty to balance the burden on local taxpayers with the safety of our county.

    In preparation for my budget decision 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.

    A key part of that activity has been a consultation gathering public views on the policing budget and what Norfolk’s residents and businesses would be willing to pay to help fund the service they receive.

    With your permission, I would like to invite the Chief Constable to give a brief overview of the demand/resource equation for our constabulary as he has put it to me, and then the Chief Finance Officer to describe the financial position.

    After that, I will invite my Communications and Engagement Director to tell you of my outreach to the Norfolk community and what they have said.

    And then I will turn to my resultant considerations and conclusion.

    _______________________________________________________________

    When I assumed office three years ago, I pledged to give every man, woman and child in our county the opportunity to influence local policing where they live. That is why I have regarded it both as my duty and my privilege to consult widely by reaching out to the Norfolk community where they live and work – in the market squares, at the entrance to supermarkets, in the coffee shops, from Downham to Dereham, Wymondham to Great Yarmouth.

    We are fortunate in our county to have such a committed, highly-skilled police force. One of the top forces, rated nationally as outstanding for efficiency. We live in one of the safest counties in the country. All this in the face of major cuts in available resources in past years. It is to the great credit of the chief officers, the officers and staff of our constabulary that they have driven massive efficiencies while providing us with such impressive service.

    We are stewards of the public’s resources; we have a duty to use the taxes they contribute with the utmost care. We must always look first to maximise efficiency.

    A guiding principle for me is to trust, but verify. I have gone through the books with the Chief Finance Officer. I have reviewed the estates strategy. I have challenged the Chief Constable to demonstrate a continuing programme of efficiencies. I have tested the invest-to-save concept. I have worked with fellow Police and Crime Commissioners in the region to carry forward opportunities for greater effectiveness and efficiency through deeper collaboration.

    I have listened carefully to the chief officers as they have described to me the policing challenges they face, and their resource requirements to meet those challenges.

    I have made direct representations to the Government to impress on ministers the major challenges we face in Norfolk in an era of increasing and more complex demands on our constabulary, and on partner, public and private agencies.

    I have communicated direct with the Home Secretary, Police and Fire Minister and Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

    I am pleased to say that central government has increased its contribution to Norfolk policing by £1.6 million for the coming year. It also has agreed to absorb £1.6 million of the £2.1 million employer contributions to pensions and to raise the precept cap for policing to £24 a year on a Band D property.

    I have heard loud and clear from the men, women and children of our county that not only do they want crime to be prevented and the law upheld – they also want the assurance that comes from visible policing, from neighbourhood policing.

    No one likes to pay more for less. I have heard our Norfolk community say in convincing numbers that they are prepared to pay more for policing but they want to see more policing for their money.

    The Chief Constable has said that a precept freeze for 2019/20 would, inevitably, lead to significant savings needing to be found. Savings equivalent to approximately 90 officers.

    With a 15 pence per week increase to the policing element of council tax – based on a Band D property – further savings would still be required. Savings equivalent to at least 45 officers.

    With a 31 pence per week increase, we would be able to stand still, and maintain the roll-out of the Norfolk 2020 policing model, but there would be very limited opportunity to increase officer numbers or invest in technology.

    An extra 46 pence per week on a Band D household would, the Chief Constable tells me, allow significant investment in the frontline, with an increase of 40 officers. It would provide an opportunity to further invest in technology, such as drones, but more particularly in technology which will enhance the Constabulary’s digital forensic capability to investigate crime more efficiently and effectively.

    The people of Norfolk have listened to this information and more than two-thirds of those who responded to my public consultation over the past four weeks said they were prepared to pay more. Of those, 70 percent said they were prepared to pay the maximum £24 annual increase on a Band D property to see this investment.

    In May 2016, when I assumed office, there were 1,476 fully-warranted police officers in Norfolk. With what I am proposing today, there would be 1,550 – more warranted police officers in our county than three years ago.

    What I am proposing today will also mean there will be a greater number of people dedicated to county policing activity than we had immediately before the loss of the 150 PCSO positions.

    The budget I propose today takes into account the feedback I have received from Norfolk’s communities, Norfolk Constabulary, key organisations and partner agencies.

    The budget I propose today allows me to invest in policing in Norfolk both now and in the future.

    I have concluded that the public safety of our county can best be assured by proposing an increase in the policing element of council tax of 46 pence per week on a Band D property. 47% of households in Norfolk fall within Band B and C so, for them, the increase will be lower.

 

Read the budget report to the Norfolk Police and Crime Panel

Read the budget consultation response report

Full list of consultation responses