Council tax increase needed says Essex crime commissioner

The crime commissioner for Essex Police says a council tax increase of nearly £10 is needed to ensure the police service is there to help the country “build back when this pandemic is over”.

Essex Police proposes to recruit an additional 184 police officers in 2021/22 – paid in part through a council tax increase.

Of the 184 officers planned to be recruited over the next year, 132 are to be paid for by central Government.

A further 52 officers are to be funded from an increase in the police and fire precept of £9.90 – from £198 in 2020/21 to £208 in 2021/22, raising an extra £6.4 million.

Essex Fire’s precept is staying the same –  £73.89 for a Band D household.

Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst said “this a very difficult decision this year”.

He explained:  “We are in the middle of a programme of bolstering Essex Police and we know what we need to do.

“So far the programme has been a success as we do it stage by stage. We needed to start bringing crime down before the pandemic hit.

“It’s working.

“But we know we have a lot more to do – particularly around knife driven violence, serious drug violence and domestic abuse and this is where the investments are going to go.

“Equally, at the same, we have the issue of the consequences of the pandemic which of course, economically is really tough.

“I think the thing which really needs emphasis is the emergency services – policing in particular has a role to play in helping us build back when this pandemic is over.

“At the end of March 2022, Essex Police plans to have an officer establishment of 3,553 officers. This will mean that Essex Police will have grown by 703 police officers since May 2016.”

Essex Police could have imposed as much as a £15 increase on a band D property.

Mr Hirst added:  “We know that during this lockdown crime has changed shape – shoplifting and pub brawls haven’t been happening because those places have been closed. But there is a lot going on in terms of abuse.

“There are a lot of kids who rely on schools for their support and who have not been getting it. We need to be out there for our youth services supporting them.

“I don’t think we have a choice to back off – we just need to shape it and make sure there is focus where there needs to be focus.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter