Shotley peninsula residents to pay six percent more for Suffolk police service
By Siobhan Middleton (local democracy reporter)
27th Jan 2023 | Local News
The council tax paid to Suffolk's police will increase by six percent from April.
Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Tim Passmore has confirmed the increase after gaining approval from the county's police and crime panel today.
This comes after increases of almost seven percent last year and five percent the year before.
Mr Passmore said: "This recommendation is the most difficult one I have had to make in my ten years as PCC.
"I am very conscious that many people are on low incomes and struggling. I really wish I wasn't in this position.
"Sadly, our funding from government is just not enough. This has been the case for several years now.
"Suffolk is one of the lowest-funded forces in the country and faces significant challenges, so I felt I had no choice but to propose the increase.
"The demand for 999 calls has risen by 21 percent since this time last year, a level of increase nobody anticipated.
"Demand has also been shoved on to the police from other parts of the public sector, which I think is unfair and unreasonable.
"We are not a mental health service, ambulance service or here to look after social services, yet we are having to take on these roles at times.
"It is essential that our constabulary is properly resourced and financed. I think we would end up with a decline of service without this increase.
"We would have to look at where to make cuts but it is likely they would be centred around staff reductions."
Under Mr Passmore's proposals, people living in a band D property will pay £14.94 a year more for the police.
A public questionnaire on the precept increase found 56 percent in agreement and 44 percent against.
The survey was conducted for nearly three weeks from January 6 and returned 2,116 responses.
Two members out of a panel of 13 voted against the precept increase, including county councillor Peter Beer.
He said: "I accept frontline police need a lot more money.
"I mean no disrespect to any senior officers but I think this money should come from a pay freeze for them rather than a precept increase.
"They are already earning a lot of money and they received a five percent pay rise last year."
Mr Passmore explained the five percent pay rise last year was an average taken from the fact all police staff gained £1,900 – so senior staff members didn't get a higher uplift on account of their pay being higher.
The decision will increase the policing budget by £3.9 million, which will enable the constabulary to keep running effectively and to fund two new initiatives: digital engagement and rapid video response for victims of domestic abuse.
The digital engagement proposal is to recruit staff and gain the technology to improve the digital options for reporting crime and engaging with officers.
The plans for domestic abuse victims would allow them to contact the police via a video call on their phone. It would not replace the option to have a traditional phone call.
Mr Passmore and Chief Constable Rachel Kearton explained at the meeting that the video option would remove the need for the victim to talk if they are not in a position where they can. It also has the potential to provide important footage supporting the case of a domestic violence victim at court.
The PCC will monitor the impact that this additional precept investment has had over the next financial year. Quarterly updates on this progress will be published on the PCC website.
Suffolk's police and crime panel includes four county councillors, seven district and borough councillors and two independent members. It is responsible for supporting and challenging the PCC.