By Local Democracy Reporter
THURROCK Council’s plan to pay for police officers out of its own pocket will create a new team focussed on working within the community and preventing crime it is claimed.
The team of up to nine officers are costing the council £1 million over the next three years and will work within the civic offices, alongside other agencies and charities.
They will remain accountable to Essex Police and focus on preventing anti-social behaviour by taking work aimed at preventing crime. For the most part, they will not be responsible for attending emergency calls.
Details of the plan were first outlined in a report which said the council would pay for the recruitment and training of five new police officers and a sergeant over three years at a cost of £1million.
It added that Essex Police also planned to provide another three officers, noting that it is “eight police officers and a sergeant working within the community of Thurrock”.
However, the Police later confirmed that the three officers are already operating in Thurrock as part of the Community Policing Team and will simply move over to work alongside the council-funded team.
On top of the £1million paid out through the council, taxpayers are also being asked to pay an extra £24 in their council tax bills as part of a county-wide increase in police funding.
Crime commissioner Roger Hirst claims this will mean an extra 215 police officers being recruited but it has not been confirmed how many will be in Thurrock.
An increase of £11 last year boosted the number in Thurrock by 15, however Essex is a long way from making up for the hundreds of officers cut since 2010.
Councillor Luke Spillman of the Thurrock Independent Party branded the council plans “out of touch with reality”.
He said: “The Tories celebrated cooking the books to make it look like there’s is more investment going into front line policing than there is. They celebrated increasing your council tax to replace a fraction of police which the Conservative government have previously cut.”
But the leader of the council, Councillor Rob Gledhill, hit back at the Independent Party for failing to understand public finance.
“When the last Labour Government was spending £6 for every £4 raised in tax the deficit had to be tackled and this Conservative Government is doing just that,” he said.
“We hear continuously from both opposition parties in Thurrock that there are not enough police but they don’t come up with any solution as to how to pay for them.
“The Conservative Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner asked for an average of £1 per month last year for more police and £2 per month in the coming year to put more police on the street. On top of this the Conservative administration is using £1million of its one off investment surpluses to put more police on the street in Thurrock over the next three years, so those officers will not cost the taxpayer one single penny.
“Hopefully the opposition parties will be agreeing the 0 per cent Council Tax rise this year for general Council Tax. This will mean the just over £2 per month increase in Council Tax this year will be ploughed directly into paying for more police on the street and to further support the Essex Fire and Rescue Service, something I am sure most residents will agree with.”