Council tax cap to hit policing

Katy Bourne, PCC for Sussex. Taken at County Hall, Lewes. 11/10/13
Katy Bourne, PCC for Sussex. Taken at County Hall, Lewes. 11/10/13

TAXPAYERS won’t be paying as much to Sussex Police as they were prepared to.

A recent public consultation by the Sussex police and crime commissioner, Katy Bourne, found there was ‘overwhelming’ public support for paying extra council tax to help the police.

Nearly 70 per cent of residents supported the plans for band D residents to pay an extra £5 every year.

“Originally we were allowed to put it up £5 for a band D without triggering a referendum because Sussex Police is the fourth-lowest-funded police force in the country,” said the police and crime commissioner. “That was a 3.6 per cent increase.”

But the figure was capped by the department for communities and local government, preventing Sussex Police from raising the precept.

The precept is now set at 1.95 per cent – nearly half of what residents were prepared to pay.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said the precept rise of 1.95 per cent will enable Sussex Police to invest in ‘essential’ areas and the commissioner is currently revising the timescale for delivery of these investments,

Speaking at a Sussex Police performance and accountability meeting on Friday, Katy Bourne said: “There was some clear spending that needed to be done. This was an investment and the serious sexual offence unit was one of the areas.”

Mrs Bourne said the police were still going to focus on reducing serious sexual offending and tackling child exploitation, cyber crime and increasing the visibility of frontline policing.

Gile York, temporary chief constable for Sussex Police, said everything outlined in the budget was important.

“We want to deliver mobile policing in a different way,” he said.

“At the moment, so many of their cases require them to go back to a police station. It is not a sensible way to operate.”

Chief constable York said they would also crack down on the ‘emerging criminality’ of cyber crime.

“If you like – we are getting bigger bang for our buck in collaboration with Surrey,” he said.