Would you be prepared to pay a little extra on your council tax bill to further improve the policing service in Surrey?
That is the question the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro is asking residents as he launches his annual public consultation on the policing element of the council tax known as the precept.
The PCC is seeking the public’s views on whether they would support either a 5% rise for the next year which would allow further investment in more officers and staff or a 2% inflationary increase which would allow Surrey Police to maintain a steady course during 2020/21.
A 5% rise would equate to around a £13 a year rise for an average Band D property while 2% would mean an extra £5 on a Band D annual bill.
The Commissioner is inviting the public to have their say by filling in a short online survey which can be found HERE
Together with Surrey Police, the PCC is also carrying out a series of 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 nearest event by clicking 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 which funds the Force together with a grant from central government.
This year, budget planning is more difficult due to the government’s settlement announcement, which outlines both the amount of grant and maximum level PCCs can raise through the precept, being delayed because of the general election.
The settlement is normally announced in December but is now not expected until late January. With a proposed budget needing to be finalised in early February, this has restricted financial planning whilst also meaning the window for seeking public feedback is much shorter than usual.
Last year Surrey residents agreed to pay 10% extra in return for increasing front-line officer and operational staff posts by an additional 79 whilst protecting 25 other police posts that would have been lost. All those new staff will be in post and doing their training by May 2020.
It was announced in October that Surrey will receive central funding for an extra 78 police officers over the coming year as part of the government’s programme to increase police officer numbers nationally by 20,000.
To complement that uplift in police numbers, a 5% increase in police council tax would allow Surrey Police to invest in:
- A further uplift in local police officers providing a visible presence in local communities
- Extra Neighbourhood Support Police Officers and Youth Community Support Officers (PCSO’s) to prevent and help tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and provide local community engagement
- Police staff who can carry out investigations and help keep officers out visible to the public
- Police staff who can analyse complex data to match police resources to demand and who can carry out forensic analysis of computers and phones
A 2% increase in line with inflation will allow the force to continue the police officer training, keep recruiting officers to replace those retiring or leaving and bring in the extra 78 centrally funded officers.
PCC David Munro said: “Setting the precept is always one of the most difficult decisions I have to make as Police and Crime Commissioner and asking the public for more money is a responsibility I never take lightly.
“The last decade has been particularly difficult in terms of police funding with forces, including Surrey, seeing rising demand for their services in the face of continued cuts. However I believe Surrey Police has a bright future ahead of them with more officers being put back into our communities which I know the county’s residents want to see.
“Every year I consult with the public on my proposals for the precept but this year the delay in the police settlement has made that process more difficult. However, I have carefully looked through the financial plans for the Force and have spoken in detail with the Chief Constable on what he requires to provide an efficient service for our residents
“As a result, I would like to hear the views of Surrey residents on two options which I believe would strike a fair balance with providing that service and the burden on the public.
“An extra 5% would allow us to complement the government’s promised uplift of 78 front-line officers by strengthening our resources further in key areas including extra police in our local areas and crucial staff roles to support them. Alternatively, a 2% increase in line with inflation would allow Surrey Police to keep the ship steady through 2020/21.
“Whilst my final decision will inevitably hinge on the awaited government settlement, it is really important to me to get the views and opinions of the Surrey public. I would ask everyone to take a minute to fill out our survey and let me know their views which can help me make my decision.”
The consultation will close at midday on Thursday 6 February 2020. If you want to read more about the PCC’s proposal, the reasons for it or the levels of council tax for each housing band– CLICK HERE