PFCC proposed budget to improve police and fire & rescue services in Essex approved by Police, Fire and Crime Panel
Members of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel met today (Thursday, January 24th) and have agreed Roger Hirst’s, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, detailed financial plans to boost Essex Police’s finances by raising the policing element of the Council Tax precept.
This will enable the Chief Constable to recruit an additional 215 police officers over the next year to focus on visible, frontline policing.
In a public survey carried out by Mr Hirst at the end of last year, more than 71 per cent of respondents said they would be prepared to invest more in policing to help improve the service provided. Seventy-three per cent of positive respondents said they would be prepared to pay at least £20 a year more. In the light of that and following discussions with Chief Constable B J Harrington, Mr Hirst is going to increase the policing element of the Council Tax by £24 a year for the average household, the maximum permitted by government without a referendum. This will mean that the average Band D property will pay £192.96 for policing in a year, an increase of £2 per month. The current levy is £169.02 per year.
In relation to the budget for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Mr Hirst has also been given the green light by the Police, Fire and Crime Panel to increase the precept by roughly the rate of inflation. This will be equivalent to an increase of £2.07 a year resulting in a rise from £70.38 to £72.45 for a Band D Council Tax property.
Roger Hirst said: “I’m pleased that the members of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel have approved this budget. This is an ambitious set of measures to improve policing across our county and get ahead of the increase in crime and disorder that we have seen. It will also underpin the effectiveness of our fire and rescue service. Any increase in tax has an impact and I do not take the decision to increase precepts for both police and fire and rescue services lightly. However, I have heard the feedback from the public about the improvements we need to make and this money will make a real difference.”
The total budget for Essex Police is £300.478 million. £175.8 million will be from central Government and £124.6 million will be drawn from local taxation.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service’s total budget is £73 million with £46. 876 million coming from Council Tax and £24. 533 million from government grants with the balance being drawn from the service’s more than adequate reserves.
Last year, Mr Hirst increased the policing element of the Council Tax which led to 150 additional officers joining Essex Police. These officers have been recruited, trained and are already arriving in communities across the county.
Mr Hirst said: “People across the county have been telling me that they want more police officers and that they are prepared to pay more to get them. Now that my budget has been approved it will mean the Chief Constable will be able to bring police officers numbers to 3,200 by March next year which will get Essex Police near where it needs to be and deal with the level of demand.”
The money will be invested in 215 additional police officers on top of the 150 recruited this year as well as 32 operational police staff and 18 police support staff. They will be divided into a number of teams including:
• 68 officers dedicated to town centre policing
• 50 officers to local policing teams
• 21 roads policing officers
• 20 officers dedicated to working with children and young people
• 20 officers to boost the force’s crime and public protection command
• 20 officers dedicated to dealing with gangs and violence and vulnerability
• Seven officers to join the Gypsy, Traveller and Rural Engagement Team
• Six for the Serious Crime Directorate
• Three for a new dedicated business crime team
In terms of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, the budget for 2019/2020 will include investment in a number of initiatives including:
• £400,000 to support the recruitment and retention of on-call firefighters
• £372,000 to fund sprinkler initiatives in vulnerable communities
• £600,000 to support improvements to operational training
Full details of the budget are available to view as part of the published papers for the Police, Fire and Crime Panel. They are available via this link:
People can also listen to the meeting here:
Click here to view a copy of the Policing in Essex Precept Survey