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19 January 2017, 11:42 | Updated: 19 January 2017, 11:44
The Police and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, has proposed a 3.25% increase in the Essex Police component of Council Tax, equivalent to £4.95 per year for a band D property.
The additional money will go to fund additional resources in line with commitments under the recently published Police and Crime Plan, including an increase in police officers, the doubling of the Special Constable Programme and improvements in the 101 public contact system.
Mr Hirst said: "As I have gone out and met people from across our county I have consistently heard that people want more local, visible andaccessible policing. This proposal delivers a range of tangible investments that will help meet these expectations and make it absolutely clear what the people of Essex will be getting for their money.
Mr Hirst said: "Essex police is a very lean force and have the lowest expenditure per resident of any police force in England and Wales. Essex also has one of the lowest council tax precepts for policing in the country and central government funding for policing remains constrained. My proposal to increase the Police proportion of Council Tax by £4.95 for a band D property, which is less than 10p per week, will help us respond to the changing nature of crime and provide more local, visible and accessible policing.”
The additional £3.1 million raised through this proposed increase will help fund a number of high impact programmes, including:
· The first phase of a programme to double the number of Special Constables to 700 by 2019.
· Increasing the number of police officers to 2,850, an increase of 41 officers for regular front line policing, for the Serious Crime Directorate and for additional firearm officers.
· Improving accessibility by adding 15 additional police staff in the Force Control Room to manage additional demand and improve the 101 contact service.
· Investment in dealing with digital and cybercrime and online fraud, to help tackle gangs and organised crime.
· Investment in the technology that supports the Mobile First Programme, increasing what officers can do via their smartphones on patrol, freeing up time to offer additional support to communities and improving performance management.
This further investment is part of a comprehensive transformation programme currently being delivered by Essex Police. This includes investment in new technology, in training and development and in modern, fit for purpose stations.
Mr Hirst said: "Essex Police has been assessed by HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies) to be a force which uses money wisely and has strong leadership in place at all levels. But the size and make-up of our county mean that Essex Police has more 999 calls and deals with more victim-based crime than average. Over the last six years we have had made a number of tough decisions to identify savings of over £74 million and carefully prioritise were we need to invest the resources we have.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner proposed budget for 2017-2018 is £268.9m funded approximately two thirds by Government grant and one third Council Tax. The proposed increase is a 3.25% rise in the police element of Council Tax, equivalent to an increase of £4.95 a year from £152.10 to £157.05 for a Band D property, raising an additional £3.1 million. The Provisional Police Grant Settlement (Home Office) for 2017-2018 provides £169.6 million of funding.