Frontline policing protected as Commissioner’s budget proposal agreed

The Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said frontline policing across Surrey will be protected over the coming year after her proposed council tax rise was agreed earlier today.

The Commissioner’s suggested increase of just over 5% for the policing element of the council tax will go ahead after members of the county’s Police and Crime Panel voted to support her proposal during a meeting at Woodhatch Place in Reigate this morning.

The overall budget plans for Surrey Police were outlined to the Panel today including 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.

The Commissioner said policing is facing significant financial challenges and the Chief Constable had been clear that without a precept increase, the Force would have to make cuts which would ultimately affect the service to Surrey residents.

However today’s decision will mean Surrey Police can continue to protect frontline services, enabling policing teams to tackle those issues important to the public and take the fight to criminals in our communities.

The policing element of an average Band D Council Tax bill will now be set at £310.57– an increase of £15 a year or £1.25 a month. It equates to around a 5.07% increase across all council tax bands.

For every pound of the precept level set, Surrey Police is funded by an extra half a million pounds. The Commissioner has said the council tax contributions make a huge difference to the service our hard-working officers and staff provide to the county and thanked residents for their ongoing support.

Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend stands outside in front of sign with office logo

The Commissioner’s office carried out a public consultation throughout December and early January in which over 3,100 respondents answered a survey with their views.

Residents were given three options – whether they would be prepared to pay the suggested £15 extra a year on their council tax bill, a figure between £10 and £15 or a figure lower than £10.

Around 57% of respondents said they would support the £15 increase, 12% voted for a figure between £10 and £15 and the remaining 31% said they would be willing to pay a lower figure.

Those who responded to the survey pinpointed burglary, anti-social behaviour and preventing neighbourhood crime as the three areas of policing they would most like to see Surrey Police focus on over the coming year.

The Commissioner said that even with the precept increase this year, Surrey Police will still need to find £17m of savings over the next four years – in addition to the £80m that has already been taken out over the last decade.

“450 extra officers and operational policing staff will have been recruited into the Force since 2019”

Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “Asking the public for more money this year has been an incredibly difficult decision and I have thought long and hard about the precept proposal that I put before the Police and Crime Panel today.

“I am all too aware the cost of living crisis is putting a huge squeeze on everyone’s finances. But the harsh reality is that policing is also being seriously impacted by the current financial climate too.

“There is huge pressure on pay, energy and fuel costs and the stark rise in inflation means the Surrey Police budget is under considerable strain like never before.

“When I was elected as Commissioner in 2021, I committed to put as many police officers on our streets as possible and since I have been in post, the public have told me loud and clear that is what they want to see.

“Surrey Police is currently on track to recruit the extra 98 police officers which is Surrey’s share this year of the government’s national uplift programme which I know residents are eager to see out in our communities.

“That will mean over 450 extra officers and operational policing staff will have been recruited into the Force since 2019 which I believe will make Surrey Police the strongest it has been in a generation.

“A huge amount of hard work has gone into recruiting those extra numbers but in order to maintain these levels, it is crucial that we give them the right support, training and development.

“This will mean we can get more of them out and about in our communities as soon as we can keeping people safe during these difficult times.

“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to fill in our survey and give us their opinions on policing in Surrey. Over 3,000 people took part and once again showed their support for our policing teams with 57% backing the full £15 a year increase.

“We also received over 1,600 comments on a range of topics which will help inform the conversations my office has with the Force on what is important to our residents.

“Surrey Police are making progress in those areas that matter to our communities. The number of burglaries being solved is on the increase, a huge focus has been put into making our communities safer for women and girls and Surrey Police received an outstanding rating from our inspectors on preventing crime.

“But we want to do even better. In the last few weeks I have recruited Surrey’s new Chief Constable Tim De Meyer and I am determined to give him the right resources he needs so we can provide the Surrey public with the best service possible to our communities.”

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