By Local Democracy Reporter
WITH massive cuts to the police leaving many areas struggling for enough officers, Thurrock Council has chosen to pay for them out of their own pocket.
Councillors will meet on Wednesday to discuss improvements to community safety including five fully-trained officers and a police sergeant, which they have paid for themselves.
The funding, which amounts to £1 million over the next three years has been raised through savings in the council budget.
A council report states: “They will be based in Thurrock Council and work alongside the teams to continue to deliver on the Community Safety Partnership priorities.”
These priorities include reducing youth crime and tackling violent extremism.
The officers will be in addition to 15 more set to be provided by Essex Police. The funding for these will come from last year’s rise in the Police’s slice of council tax.
Councillor Rob Gledhill, leader of Thurrock Council, said: “Over the last three years Thurrock Council has been running service reviews and an investment strategy which has led to one off budget surpluses over the next four years. This has allowed us to look to enhance services we know are important to our residents.
“One of these is for Thurrock Council to finance extra police officers in Thurrock. These are over and above the 15 new officers Essex Police have already committed for Thurrock through the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners Council Tax precept increase in 2018-19.
“These officers will focus on tackling anti-social behaviour and provide an increased visible police presence in the borough addressing our Community Safety Partnership objectives.
“The Thurrock funded posts will be joined by other additional officers from Essex Police and will also be working from the Council Offices not just in Grays but right across the borough.”
The additional officers are likely to be welcome news to residents but will not offset the massive cuts made to police across Essex.
Since 2010, the budget has been slashed by around £60million, resulting in the loss of police officers, PCSOs and staff. At the same time crime rates have soared and the population has been growing.
Labour leader, Councillor John Kent, said: “We’ve lost a lot of police across Thurrock and close to 1,000 officers lost across Essex, in turn crime is rising, particularly violent crime which is up 60 per cent.
“If the Tories are recognising that they got it wrong and are starting to repair some damage then that is a good thing. However, we really do need to see the detail of this.”
Cllr Kent added that with the police side of council tax due to double this year to an extra £24 per year for a band D households, the Government is shifting costs onto taxpayers.
“We’ve seen less and less money going to the Police across the country and that has left the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner with nowhere to go but to raise council tax,” he said.