What are your thoughts on paying for policing in Essex? Do you want more investment in the police service and are you willing to pay more council tax to provide it? How do you want to #MakeADifference?
These are the questions being posed by Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex.
He is asking the council tax payers of Essex for their opinion before he sets out plans for the 2020/2021 policing budget for the county.
They can fill in a survey here: https://essexpfcc.limequery.com/667238?lang=en to give their views.
Mr Hirst said: “Funding for Essex Police comes from two sources, central Government and local council tax. Taking these two funding sources into account Essex Police receives the second lowest funding per resident of any police force in the country and has one of the lowest council tax precepts for policing.
“Over the last two years we carried out surveys asking whether or not people would pay more to increase investment in policing in Essex.
“Last year, 4187 people completed the survey. Seventy-one per cent of the people who responded said they would be prepared to invest more in policing to help improve the service provided. As a result, we increased the policing element of council tax by £24 a year for the average household. The maximum permitted by the Government without a referendum.
“This extra investment is making a difference in Essex, helping us deliver an extra 368 officers, including:
- New town centre teams across the county
- More local policing
- More rural policing
- Growth in specialist officers to tackle gangs and drug related violence
“Combined with the 135 officers being funded by the Government as part of the first wave of the 20,000 extra officers they have promised nationally, it means we will be recruiting 503 extra officers by April 2021. Taking into account recent investments in technology and improved efficiency this will make Essex Police as strong as it has ever been.”
He added: “This extra investment is having an impact on policing in Essex and in recent years, we have seen a reduction in anti-social behaviour, burglary and theft.
“However, we know that violent crime, domestic abuse and online crime are all increasing nationally and these effects are being felt in Essex.
“Like other organisations, the cost of policing is affected by inflation and the increased cost of goods and services. This year we are expecting some significant increases in our costs including a 2.5 per cent increase in police officer and staff wages.
“If we want to invest more in policing and crime prevention activities we need to invest more than inflation.
“Before we take those decisions, we want to know what people think.”
The survey is online but hard copies are also available on request by either calling the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex on 01245 291600 or emailing [email protected]. People can also write to PFCC for Essex, Kelvedon Park, London Road, Rivenhall, Witham, Essex, CM8 3HB.
The survey is open now and will close at midnight on Sunday, January 12.
The Band D council tax for policing in Essex for 2019/20 is £192.96 per year.
This is not a referendum, it is an opportunity to gauge opinions so those views can be taken into account as part of the decision making process. The survey only reflects the policing element of the council tax precept and not the precept relating to Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.