Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Monday, January 21, 2013
Keeping officers on the streets and Norfolk as one of the safest places in the country lie at the heart of Stephen Bett’s first policing plan as the county’s first crime commissioner.
Keep Norfolk one of the lowest crime counties in the country.
Fight serious and organised crime.
Support victims of crime, vulnerable and elderly people.
Protect the frontline in the face of cuts.
Protect local policing from privatisation.
Use targeting and prevention to reduce demand on police.
Work with young people to reduce demand on police.
Listen carefully to the community, reaching out to minority communities and the disengaged to ensure policing is fair and equitable.
Reject party politics and work with other independents to provide a national voice.
Use restorative justice to achieve long-lasting solutions.
Mr Bett, who was elected as police and crime commissioner in November, has been compiling his first Police and Crime Plan which he has vowed will help maintain Norfolk’s position as one of the safest counties in the country over the next four years.
The former Norfolk Police Authority chairman, who campaigned as an independent, insists he will deliver his 10-Point Pledge in the face of continuing financial pressure and is determined to maintain the high standards of policing in the county.
He has set specific objectives for the force to achieve including reducing the number of priority crimes, like burglary, robbery and serious violence, by 10pc, increasing serious sexual detection rates by 10pc, serious violence detection rates by 65pc and reducing the re-offending of the most prolific offenders by 50pc.
Mr Bett said: “An enormous amount of hard work in recent years has resulted in a strong, high-performing constabulary that has kept crime levels amongst the lowest. Like everyone I talk to, I want to see it stay that way. A key focus of my manifesto was the fight against serious crime and the protection of some of the most vulnerable in our communities, in particular, victims of crime, young and elderly people who need reassuring that they will be protected.
“My Police and Crime Plan is designed to ensure that the Constabulary and our partners know what the people of Norfolk are expecting of me and their police service. Chief Constable Phil Gormley and his team understand my objectives and they have worked with me and my deputy Jenny McKibben to create a plan that protects frontline resources.”
The public have until February 16 to make their comments on the plan which has three main aims:
n Reduce priority crime, anti-social behaviour and re-offending.
n Reduce people’s vulnerability, promote equality and support victims of crime.
n Reduce the need for service (through crime prevention and restorative justice) and encourage more joined-up work with partners to protect the availability of frontline resources.
A key part of the plan includes setting the budget for the constabulary which has been tasked by the government of finding £24.5m in savings by 2015. But with the government announcing there will be another comprehensive spending review this year and with police funding likely to reduce by about 10pc from 2013/14 to 2016/17, the force is forecasting a funding gap of about £15m by the end of 2016/17.
Mr Bett, who must put his precept proposal formally to the Police and Crime Panel (PCP) on January 31, has spent much of his time since being elected trying to deal with the budget.
Options available to Mr Bett are to freeze the council tax precept and accept the offer of a two year council tax reduction scheme grant, which would provide about £598,000 in 2013/14 and 2014/15 when it would finish, or tax up to 2pc.
He said: “I will make the decisions I believe are in the best interests of Norfolk people and help us to achieve a safe and secure future for the county. The council tax freeze the government wants us to take will store up trouble for the future, leaving us with the stark reality of a multi-million pound funding gap some years down the line. This is because in two years’ time the grant money in lieu of council tax runs out.”
He added: “I am guided by what people told me during the election campaign; and also by the 1,740 replies of the public survey of which 50pc indicated they were prepared to pay small increases in council tax for their police service.”
Log onto www.norfolk-pcc.gov.uk to find out more or to have your say on the Police & Crime Plan.