Essex PCC Calls For Council Tax Funding Increase

13 May 2015, 09:18

Nick Alston

Essex's Police and Crime Commissioner says he is going to lobby Government in a bid to increase the amount of money the force gets from council tax.

Nick Alston says the funding situation for police in Essex is "perilous".

He said crime is falling in the county but the force needs more money to ensure that trend continues.

He said: "Essex Police receives less money from local council taxpayers than almost any other force in the country.

"In my first years of office I have raised the policing precept, the amount of council tax paid to fund policing, by the maximum allowable amount. Last year, this was around six pence per week for a Band D property.
"However, the gap between the local funding that Essex Police receives compared with the funding of forces receiving the average precept continues to grow in size.

"The simple truth is that the budget of Essex Police is falling further behind that of other forces year by year.

"With around 85 per cent of the police budget spent on the salaries of police officers, PCSOs and police staff, however hard we work to deliver efficiency this growing imbalance will have a direct impact on the force's effectiveness - if it is left unchecked. Already, the number of PCSOs in Essex has reduced from 445 in 2010 to 280 now.

"I support low taxation but I also have the responsibility of ensuring that Essex Police is fit to face the challenges of the future.

"I inherited from the former Essex Police Authority a precept that had been reduced to a very low level, small financial reserves some of which were not cash-backed, a lack of investment, and an apparent lack of strategic planning. To address this, I have embarked on a full review of the force's property estate as many police buildings are in the wrong place and are not fit for purpose.

"The force must also continue to develop the IT infrastructure to ensure that police officers are given the tools to do their job effectively and protect people from harm.

"Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has found that Essex Police is already one of the most efficient and low cost forces in the country.

"As PCC, I am committed to driving efficiency and I will continue to work closely with the Chief Constable to ensure Essex Police delivers the most effective policing possible However, the indications are that the force will have overspent against its budget this year – showing that the funding situation is beginning to bite.

"I will continue to make the case with the new government for the removal of the cap on any policing precept increase for 2016-17. This would enable me, as the elected Police and Crime Commissioner, to address the local council taxpayer funding shortfall and deliver firm financial foundations for Essex Police.

"I will be accountable for this decision and people will have the opportunity to vote at the next PCC elections. However, the feedback I have repeatedly received during my public meetings all around the county is that people are prepared to pay a little more if they feel it will fund high quality frontline policing."