Commissioner seeks policing tax increase

SURREY’S Police and Crime Commissioner is asking the public to approve a 3.5% increase in her council tax precept – a year after residents and councillors rejected a rise proposed by her predecessor.

Lisa Townsend is consulting householders on whether they are willing to pay extra for the 2022-23 financial year, amounting to £10 for a Band D household.

Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend with Chief Constable Gavin Stephens

She says the money is needed to support her new police and crime plan focusing on priorities demanded by people in Surrey, including reducing violence against women and girls.

Mrs Townsend’s consultation follows the Home Office giving permission for a 3.5% increase, which amounts to the average policing element of council tax going up by about 83p a month to £295.57.

Last year, David Munro, the Independent PCC who was defeated by Conservative Mrs Townsend in May, raised the policing precept by 5.5% or an average £15, promising to use the extra money to employ 77 police staff and officers. In doing so, he ignored a public consultation and most councillors on the Surrey Police and Crime Panel opposing an increase.

It meant he had raised the policing precept for the second year running, as the previous year Mr Munro won support from the public and the crime panel for an average increase of £24 a year, raising £12.8million to employ 75 police officers and 25 community support officers.

Mrs Townsend says her proposed increase will help pay the officers and other operational staff taken on using money raised by Mr Munro and grants from the Government. It will also help recruit around 70 more officers in the next financial year.

“Combined with Surrey Police’s share of extra officers from the government’s uplift programme, last year’s increase in the policing element of the council tax meant the force was able to add 150 officers and operational staff to their ranks,” she said.

“The increase also helped retain vital operational support staff, such as forensic staff, 999 call handlers and specialist digital investigators, helped fight online fraud and ensured better overall crime prevention.”

The priorities in her three-year policing plan also include protecting people from harm, working with communities so that they feel safe, strengthening relationships between the police and residents and making the county’s roads safer.

“All public services are facing a tough future with rising costs and we are not immune in policing,” said Mrs Townsend, who earlier this year ignored strong opposition from the police and crime panel to employ a deputy on a salary of £53,550.

“I don’t want to see the hard work that has gone into providing a much-needed boost to our policing numbers being undone and that is why I am asking the Surrey public for their support during these challenging times.”

To take part in her survey, visit www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/YYOV80.

The consultation closes at 9am on Tuesday 4 January.

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