Council tax increase for Sussex Police supported

The council tax increase was proposed by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne
The council tax increase was proposed by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne

Plans to increase Sussex Police’s share of council tax have been supported by members of the county’s police and crime panel.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne’s proposals will see the force’s precept increased by £10 a year for a Band D property in 2020/21.

She told panel members today (Friday January 31) that extra investment is planned in enforcement and investigation as well as providing a better policing presence.

The majority of the panel supported the proposed council tax rise, which will go on top of any increases put forward by county, district & borough councils and fire authorities.

A snap online poll held by the PCC garnered 6,489 responses across the county with 66 per cent backing the proposed council tax increase.

Mrs Bourne pointed out that Sussex has the fifth-lowest police precept in England and the seventh-lowest level of Government grant funding, but remains one of the safest parts of the country.

A report discussed by members said that the council tax increase would allow the PCC to provide the chief constable with the resources to continue a four-year recruitment programme and accelerate the ability of Sussex Police to reduce crime, deal robustly with criminals, improve outcomes for victims and meet the expectations of visitors, residents and taxpayers.

On visibility, especially in towns and villages, Mrs Bourne said that the force needed to improve engagement in both communities and online, especially on social media groups with large followings.

She explained: “The police need to be visible in the new town halls of today, those social media pages where the public have got concerns and are alarmed and show a lack of confidence the police are there to talk to them giving them that reassurance and confidence.”

Further investment would take place in the Police Community Support Officer rural team and work to improve intelligence officer capability.

On enforcement the extra money would mean an increase in arrests, seizures, searches and warrants, with a focus on tackling organised crimes groups, disrupting County Lines, arresting more violent offenders and targeted activity to bring criminals to justice through the creation of a central tactical enforcement unit.

There would also be extra funding for roads policing as Mrs Bourne described how residents are ‘fed up’ with speeding, use of mobile phones behind the wheel and anti-social driving.

Sussex Police’s dog unit would also receive extra money.

The third area to benefit would be investigation as substantially increased teams would have more detective constables and investigators as well as specific roles added to tackle complex crimes such as modern slavery and County Lines.

Mrs Bourne said that while there was a national shortage of detectives, a recent recruitment in Sussex had seen more than 400 applicants apply, of which 66 per cent were women.

Investment is planned in local investigation and resolution centres to improve the services provided to victims of hidden crimes such as domestic abuse, stalking and harassment all tailored to their needs.

After the precept increase was supported by the panel, Mrs Bourne said: “The money will be used in the areas we have outlined and I expect to see improvements in all those areas as well.”