Survey tests appetite for increase in policing tax

Residents are being asked whether they would be prepared to pay more for extra policing in Essex.

Roger Hirst, who is the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for the county, holds the purse strings for Essex Police. He is asking people to respond to a survey ahead of the annual budget setting, which asks residents whether they would be prepared to pay additional sums on top of the council tax for policing in Essex.

In 2018/19 the Band D payment for policing was £193, which was an increase of £24 a year for the average household.

The year before it increased by £12 a year from £157 to £169 for a Band D property.

The money will be invested in 215 additional police officers on top of the 150 recruited from last year’s tax increase as well

Funding for Essex Police comes from two sources, central government (60 per cent) and local council tax (40 per cent).

However, with those two sources combined 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 Mr Hirst has carried out surveys on the question of increasing investment in policing in Essex.

Last year, 4,187 people completed the survey and 71 per cent of those who responded said they would be prepared to invest more in policing to help improve the service provided.

The year before more than 5,000 people took part in the Policing in Essex Precept Survey, with 66 per cent of respondents stating they would in general be prepared to invest more in policing to help improve the service provided.

The extra money from the precepts from the last two years will mean the force can sign up an extra 365 officers.

Combined with the 135 officers being funded by the government as part of the first wave of the 20,000 extra officers promised nationally, and three funded by partnership funding, it means Essex Police will be recruiting 503 extra officers by April 2021.

Mr Hirst said: “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.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter