Police precept rise ‘not to plug hole in budget’

Katy Bourne. PCC for Sussex. 13/12/13 ENGSUS00120131213155025
Katy Bourne. PCC for Sussex. 13/12/13 ENGSUS00120131213155025

Residents will pay more to Sussex Police following an increase in the force’s share of the Council Tax - but the extra funds will not be used to ‘plug holes in the budget’.

The Sussex Police budget includes a 1.98 per cent increase in Council Tax - the equivalent to an additional £2.79 per household, per year on a Band D property.

At a meeting on Friday January 23, the Sussex Police and Crime Panel quizzed Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne on plans for the force and the reason behind the precept increase.

The rise in its share of Council Tax will achieve an additional £2.6million for Sussex Police, money that Ms Bourne assured the panel would be used to improve the service and not plug holes in the budget.

The extra funding will be targeted at providing mobile devices for frontline officers, recruiting Sexual Offence Liaison Officers for investigations into sexual offences, high risk domestic abuse, child abuse and sexual exploitation.

There were suggestions from members of the panel that Sussex Police could freeze its share of the Council Tax and take advantage of a promised Government grant.

But Katy Bourne told members: “We don’t know how long grant will last for – the £1.6m increase in the budget will stay, so is worth a lot more than the £800,000 grant for freezing.”

The panel called for greater collaboration between forces in the south east and a reduction in cost for the commissioner’s office. But Katy Bourne assured the panel that work on greater collaboration with other forces is ongoing and that the cost of running her own office is kept to a minimum, with no increase since her arrival in 2012.

The panel voted in favour of the budget.