Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro is asking residents whether they would be prepared to pay a bit more in council tax to boost policing numbers and support officers and staff in the county over the coming year.
The PCC is consulting with Surrey tax-payers on his proposal of a 5.5% annual increase in the amount the public pay for policing through their council tax.
The Commissioner said he believes the role police officers and staff play in Surrey’s communities is more important now than ever as the county continues to face up to challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The proposed rise, coupled with Surrey Police’s next allocation of the 20,000 officers paid for by central government, would mean the Force could add an extra 150 officers and staff to their establishment over the coming year.
The PCC is inviting the public to have their say by filling in a short online survey here.
One of the PCC’s key responsibilities is to set the overall budget for Surrey Police including determining the level of council tax raised for policing in the county, known as the precept, which funds the Force together with a grant from central government.
In December, the Home Office gave PCCs across the country the flexibility to increase the policing element of a Band D Council Tax bill by £15 a year or an extra £1.25 a month – the equivalent of around 5.5% across all bands.
The combination of last year’s precept together with the initial share of the national officer uplift meant Surrey Police were able to strengthen their establishment by 150 officers and staff during 2020/21.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, the Force are well on track to fill those posts by the end of this financial year and the PCC said he wants to match that success by adding another 150 to the ranks during 2021/22.
The government has provided ring-fenced funding for an extra 73 officers for Surrey Police for the second tranche of officers from their national uplift.
To complement that uplift in police numbers – the PCC’s proposed 5.5% rise would allow the Force to invest in an additional 10 officer and 67 staff roles including:
- A new team of officers focused on reducing the most serious accidents on our roads
- A dedicated rural crime team to tackle and prevent issues in the county’s rural communities
- More police staff focused on assisting local investigations, such as interviewing suspects, to allow police officers to stay out visible in communities
- Trained intelligence gathering and research analysts to gather information on criminal gangs operating in Surrey and help target those causing the most harm in our communities
- More police staff focused on engaging with the public and making it easier to contact Surrey Police via digital means and the 101 service.
- Additional funding to provide key support services for victims of crime – in particular domestic violence, stalking and child abuse.
PCC David Munro said: “We are all living through an incredibly difficult time so deciding what I think the public should pay for their policing in Surrey over the next year is one of the hardest tasks I have faced as your Police and Crime Commissioner.
“Over the last year our police officers and staff have faced unprecedented challenges in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk to keep us safe. I believe the role they play in our communities during these uncertain days is more important now than ever.
“Residents across the county have consistently told me that they really value their police teams and would like to see more of them in our communities.
“This remains a key priority for me and after years of government cuts to our police service, we have a real opportunity to continue the significant strides we have made in the last few years in recruiting those badly needed extra numbers to the Surrey Police frontline.
“That is why I am proposing a 5.5% increase in the police element of council tax which would mean we could bolster officer and staff numbers in those crucial roles that are needed to increase visibility, improve our public contact and provide that essential operational support to our frontline officers.
“It is always difficult to ask the public to pay more money, particularly in these troubled times. That is why it is really important to me however to get the views and opinions of the Surrey public so I would ask everyone to take a minute to fill out our survey and let me know their thoughts.”
The consultation will close at 9.00am on Friday 5 February 2020. If you want to read more about the PCC’s proposal click here.
Together with the Surrey Police Chief Officer Team and local Borough Commanders, the PCC will also be carrying out a series of online public engagement events in every borough in the county in the next five weeks to hear people’s views in person.
You can sign up to your local event on our Engagement Events page.