MEMBERS of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel have agreed plans to boost finances by raising the policing element of the Council Tax precept.
The proposals, put forward by Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, will enable the Chief Constable to recruit an additional 215 police officers over the next year.
Mr Hirst said the decision to increase taxes was based on a public survey at the end of last year when more than 71% of respondents said they would be prepared to invest more in policing to improve the service.
Following discussions with Chief Constable B J Harrington, Mr Hirst is going to increase the policing element of the Council Tax by £24 a year for the average household, the maximum permitted by government without a referendum.
This will mean that the average Band D property will pay £192.96 for policing in a year, an increase of £2 per month – compared with the current levy of £169.02 per year.
Mr Hirst has also been given the green light to increase the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service precept by roughly the rate of inflation.
This will be equivalent to an increase of £2.07 a year resulting in a rise from £70.38 to £72.45 for a Band D Council Tax property.
The extra money for Essex Police will be spent on 215 additional police officers on top of the 150 recruited this year – as well as 32 operational police staff and 18 police support staff.
The roles will be broken down as follows:
• 68 officers dedicated to town centre policing
• 50 officers to local policing teams
• 21 roads policing officers
• 20 officers dedicated to working with children and young people
• 20 officers to boost the force’s crime and public protection command
• 20 officers dedicated to dealing with gangs and violence and vulnerability
• 7 officers to join the gypsy, traveller and rural engagement team
• 6 officers for the serious crime directorate
• 3 officers for a new dedicated business crime team
The extra money for Essex Fire and Rescue Service will be divided between recruitment, training, and funding for sprinklers in vulnerable communities.
Speaking about the reasons for the tax increase, Mr Hirst said: “I’m pleased that the members of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel have approved this budget.
“This is an ambitious set of measures to improve policing across our county and get ahead of the increase in crime and disorder that we have seen. It will also underpin the effectiveness of our fire and rescue service.
“Any increase in tax has an impact and I do not take the decision to increase precepts for both police and fire and rescue services lightly. However, I have heard the feedback from the public about the improvements we need to make and this money will make a real difference.”