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More police in schools - but you’ll have to pay extra to make it happen

PUBLISHED: 14:51 06 February 2018

Police officers on the beat in Norfolk. PIC: Ian Burt.

Police officers on the beat in Norfolk. PIC: Ian Burt.

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Seventeen more uniformed officers on the street and additional police staff in Norfolk’s schools have been announced as part of a plan that would see every Norfolk taxpayer paying more for the police.

Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner Lorne Green today proposed to increase the police share of council tax bills for 2018/19 by 5.5pc - £11.97 per year or 23p a week for a band D home.

The budget plan for 2018/19 was presented to the Police and Crime Panel (PCP) at a meeting at County Hall from 10am. Within minutes of the proposal being presented, the panel agreed it.

The three precept options considered by the PCC were:

• To freeze the police share of council tax

• To increase it by 1.99pc (£4.32 per year or 8p a week at band D)

• To increase council tax by 5.5pc.

The panel was told that option one would have been “brutal for frontline policing in Norfolk”, while option two would still mean “further reductions to local policing would be inevitable over the next financial year”.

The meeting heard more than 2000 people responded to a public consultation, with most in favour of paying more for their police as long as they got something for it.

Mr Green said the increase would help protect Norfolk’s frontline and its communities.

He vowed the rise would mean an additional 17 fully warranted police officers on the streets of the county in the next financial year.

In addition there would be an additional six police staff who would be going into schools in the county to support the current 14 police officers currently working with pupils at Norfolk schools.

The PCC said there would also be a new communications programme which ensures the public, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable, know how they can access police services when they need them.

Mr Green has also asked the chief constable to look at the 101 number to ensure it is fit for purpose and insisted there would be more regular police surgeries in the county to further increase visibility.

He said: “As you will recall, in the latter months of last year, the chief constable announced his proposals for a new policing model for Norfolk.

“The chief constable also assured me personally that his proposals would enable community policing to continue and deliver the priorities within the county’s Police and Crime Plan, based on what communities say matters most to them.

“The budget I propose today will support our chief constable in delivering that new policing model from April 1 2018.

“The budget I propose today takes into account the feedback I have received from Norfolk’s communities, organisations and partner agencies.

“The budget I propose today allows me to invest in policing in Norfolk both now and in the future.”

The meeting, held at County Hall on Tuesday (February 6), heard Mr Green had considered three precept options.

More than 2,000 people took part in a public consultation with 80pc of the 1200 who answered the supplementary question stating they would be prepared to pay more than 4.5pc for their police, with 43pc saying they would be willing to pay up to 12pc.

Mr Green said: “On the basis of these results, it is clear that people are prepared to pay more to help fund their police force.

“However, having read the comments that accompanied their vote, I am also very clear that, if they are to pay more, respondents to the consultation expect to see more for their money and they want the funds to be used to increase frontline and visible policing.”

He added: “I have heard the voices of our communities. They told me in great number they would be prepared to pay something extra for their police if they could see something extra for their money. I get that.”

My Green said in making his decision he had asked the chief constable to make a number of enhancements to Norfolk’s new policing model.

Under the proposals announced by chief constable Simon Bailey, all 150 PCSOs in Norfolk will go, along with seven police stations and seven front counters in stations.

The PCSOs will be replaced with 81 new police officers and 16 non-officer roles as part of a move which will save £2m a year.

The PCC said the public consultation had shown “how important local community policing is to Norfolk’s residents”.

As a result he called on the chief constable, who has agreed, to invest in 23 additional personnel - 17 police officers and six police staff - dedicated to local policing under the new model.

Mr Green said he wanted to reinforce police involvement in schools which is why six of those additional 23 personnel would work alongside the dedicated schools programme officers.

The PCC said he wanted the new robust communications programme to increase public awareness, particularly among the elderly and vumberable, of all the ways they can access and engage with the police.

Over the past few months technology like body cams, drones and mobile tablets for officers, have been introduced.

The PCC said his budget proposal would also ensure Norfolk can invest in the equipment and infrastructure necessary “to continue to deliver a modern, innovative efficient and effective police service for our county’s residents”.

John Hummersone, the force’s chief finance officer, said 2018/19 would be the ninth year of austerity for the the constabulary.

He said the preferred option would “protect” the forces reserves and the frontline.

The PCC had lobbied central government to look again at police funding and allow PCCs more flexibility to set budgets in response to financial challenges and local policing need.

Three days before the PCC’s consultation closed, the Policing Minister announced that the cap would be raised with the maximum increase permitted in 2018/19 being £12 per household. That equates to a maximum 5.5pc increase on a Band D property in Norfolk.

Earlier this year it was confirmed the police element of council tax bills in Suffolk would go up by 6.8pc - £9.30 a year for Band B properties - Tim Passmore’s proposals were backed by Suffolk Police and Crime Panel members.

Mr Passmore told the PCP meeting that he remains deeply frustrated by the way the government funds Suffolk police.

He said: “Suffolk gets one of the worst deals from central government over policing. We have tried very hard to speak to government to explain that Suffolk has a poor policing settlement by nothing seems to change.”

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