Norfolk Police faces budget challenge due to rise in the most demanding and sensitive crimes
ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2010
Norfolk’s chief constable has asked residents to pay an average of £3.92 per year extra in their council tax – to help deal with increasing levels of the most demanding and sensitive crimes in the county.
Simon Bailey said the Jimmy Savile scandal had “undoubtedly” made people in Norfolk more confident to report sexual offences.
Although “priority crime” – a category which includes traditional offences such as burglary, criminal damage, robbery and theft from motor vehicles – fluctuated but broadly stayed at the same level between December 2010 and November 2013, the number of crimes involving vulnerable people has risen dramatically.
For example there was a 37pc rise in adult abuse, a 26pc jump in child abuse and 11.4pc growth in domestic abuse crimes between April 1 last year and January 7 this year.
At public meetings in King’s Lynn and Norwich, he asked police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett: “How do we bridge the funding gap whilst maintaining levels of performance in an increasingly demanding environment?”
Yet even with a 1.95pc rise in the police element of the council tax – an extra £3.92 per year for those in a Band D property – he said the force would still have to find just over £9m over the next five years to balance the books. If council tax does not rise at all, that figure would be £12.3m.
“Our budget is going to reduce,” he said. “The only question is the scale of the reduction.”
He added that despite making huge savings so far after chancellor George Osborne’s comprehensive spending review, the force had protected frontline policing roles.
That, he said, had been achieved by reorganising supervisory roles and by sharing services with Suffolk.
“We’re doing everything we can to drive out money from our support services,” Mr Bailey said. “We’re doing a good job but I am facing a significant increase in the crimes reported around the most vulnerable in the community.”
Mr Bett said the chief constable’s message made for “pretty dire reading” – but said he was keeping an open mind about a potential increase until he had the chance to listen to the views of the public.
“If you look at public services, all are going through more pain and it is not going to get any easier,” he added.
Most of those present at the King’s Lynn meeting supported the rise – but county councillor Richard Bird said it was unfair “to load the ratepayer with one hand and take away services with the other”. Other public services also face future cuts.
What do you think should happen to the police element of council tax? Write, giving your full contact details, to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk