Friday, May 24, 2024

Police bosses plan to hike up their part of council tax (again)

POLICE, Fire and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst is proposing a budget for 2023-2024 that will “enable Essex Police to complete its ambitious expansion, increasing officer numbers by 905 and taking the total number of officers in Essex to 3,755, the biggest and strongest in its 182-year history claims the police.”

Roger said: “The five-year investment programme in Essex Police is already making a difference with incidents of burglary down by 49 per cent, anti-social behaviour down by 55 per cent and theft by a smaller three per cent since 2016. There is still much more to do, especially to reduce violent crime.

“We know that people want to see less crime, more investment in Essex Police and continue to have a strong fire and rescue service.

“We also know that the current economic climate is tough for everybody and both services are facing significant increases due to inflation. My proposal continues our investment in the services while ensuring a precept increase well below the rate of inflation.

“Both services have identified ways to save money and be more efficient without reducing the number of officers, firefighters, staff or their overall capability.”

Roger’s budget proposal will mean a Band D Council Taxpayer will pay an extra £14.94 per year for policing and an extra £4.95 a year for fire and rescue services – a combined increase of £1.67 per month.

Essex Police Proposal 
The Commissioner is proposing an increase of the policing element of the council tax precept of £14.94 per year for a Band D property, or 6.84 per cent, taking the cost to £233.46.
The precept will raise £10.8m additional funding, with a further £12.2m raised through internal improvements in efficiency and an increase of £3.8m in grants from central government. 

The increase in funding will allow the force to:

Maintain its record strength and size by retaining and recruiting high quality motivated officers, staff and volunteers

Invest in officer skills, knowledge and experience so they can reach their full capability, preventing more crime and responding more effectively to incidents

Provide a higher level of service to the public by better understanding the issues affecting communities, resolving more issues earlier and continuing to improve the service to victims of crime

Roger is proposing significant investment in training and development so we can get new officers out being visible in their communities.

He said: “Essex Police is now bigger and stronger than ever before. To increase the total number of officers by 905, over 1700 have been recruited to grow the force and replace those retiring or leaving. 
“Because of the scale of this once in a generation recruitment programme, 40 per cent of officers now have less than five-years’ experience. We now need to invest in their training and development to get more of them out in our communities helping to get crime down.

“Overall, crime has seen a small reduction compared to the pre-covid peak. But we know there is still much more to do. Drug driven violence, domestic abuse and violence against women and girls have all increased. 

“It is vital we continue to focus on preventing crime, investing in our new police officers, including equipping them with the right skills and technology to tackle crime.”

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service Proposal

The Commissioner is proposing an increase of the fire and rescue element of the council tax precept of £4.95 per year for a Band D property, or 6.57 per cent taking the cost to £80.28. 

The increase will help the Service to continue to drive forward its improvement programme which includes protection and prevention activities and ensuring that all firefighters receive the training and development they need to serve their communities.

The increase will also mean that all firefighters and professional support staff can receive a pay rise that begins to reflect on the professionalism and services they provide. It also starts to address some of the cost-of-living pressures being experienced, especially in the South East of England. The proposal, if accepted, will fund the five per cent increase that has already been offered and a further four per cent next year. 

Roger said: “Our Fire and Rescue Service has made strong progress in recent years, improving the training provided to firefighters, investing in protection services and preventing harm. Continuing this investment will help the Service to continue to reduce the risk to the public and property across Essex.”
“Given the increase in the cost of living, it is important that we support our firefighters and professional support staff and this budget includes a provision for a four per cent pay increase next year on top of the five per cent offered for this year.”

Firefighters were offered a 5 per cent increase in 2022-23 which was rejected. Professional support staff were offered and accepted a flat rate of £1,925 which is equivalent to around 5 per cent. 
This year’s proposal follows a 1.95 per cent increase in 2022-23 and a freezing of the precept in 2021-22 to take account of the impact of COVID. 

Background
The precept proposals for Essex Police and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service were supported by the results of a public survey held between 17 October and 1st December 2022. Seventy-eight per cent (of the 2,155 respondents giving an answer) said that they would like to see Essex Police receive more funding to invest in getting crime down, prevention, protecting the vulnerable and supporting victims across our county. 55 per cent, who gave a view, said they were prepared to pay an additional £15 per annum or more to invest in policing.

For the Fire and Rescue Service, 80 per cent said they were willing to pay more. Of those who responded and gave a view, 71 per cent were prepared to pay an increase of £5 or more, to ensure the Service can manage its cost increases, continue its improvement work and to maintain its level of service.

The budget proposals will be considered by the Essex Police, Fire and Crime Panel at a meeting taking place on February 7th 2023. The full papers for the meeting and budget proposals can be viewed via this link: 


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