NORFOLK Police Authority (NPA) has decided to increase the council tax precept for police by 3 per cent to allow the Chief Constable financial flexibility to protect Norfolk.
In agreeing their final budget before being abolished to make way for a directly elected Police and Crime Commissioner, the NPA decision amounts to an extra 7 pence per week for a Band A taxpayer and 11 pence per week for a Band D taxpayer.
Vice-chairman Robin Chapman explained the dilemma which faced members. They could accept the Government’s offer of a one-off £1.7 million additional grant in return for freezing the council tax precept - or they could continue their long-term approach of investing for the future.
Mr Chapman believed the Authority should take the long-term option: “By doing so, we allow the Chief Constable to reduce the impact of the central Government cuts on the frontline abilities of the Norfolk Constabulary when they may well be needed most.
“Mr Gormley has indicated he would be able to preserve more of the Police Community Support Officers and ensure some expansion of the Safer Schools initiative work which Members have seen so demonstrably successful in places where these officers are currently deployed.
“Additional support for the vulnerable, especially the elderly, would also be possible if we invest now,” said Mr Chapman.
After the meeting, Mr Gormley said he was pleased with the decision because it meant he could better plan to keep Norfolk people safe and protect them from harm.
“My aim is to protect the number of officers and PCSOs in our Safer Neighbourhood teams to keep Norfolk people safe. A one-off grant does not allow me to do that as people cost money over the longer-term, ie, they are a recurring cost.
“I made it clear to Members that I would be able to better protect some of the initiatives that they most value, including our work in schools and with vulnerable people, if they decided to increase the precept.”
Stephen Bett, NPA chairman, said the wide consultation carried out prior to the meeting returned overwhelming support from the county to increase the precept.
“The Authority has worked tirelessly over recent years to improve policing in Norfolk and it has done this with considerable success – performance has turned around, we are the safest county in England and, compared to some other forces, we are in a position of relative strength.
“Today’s decision will help us to preserve frontline policing in the face of massive public spending cuts - a position that we could not have envisaged but one that our foresight is now assisting us to hedge to the advantage of Norfolk people.”