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'I have no alternative' to 6.8pc precept rise, says police commissioner

PUBLISHED: 17:30 23 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:30 23 January 2018

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk's police and crime commissioner has made a forceful defence of his decision to up the constabulary's share of council tax by almost 7pc.

Tim Passmore will be requesting approval for a 6.8pc increase in the council tax precept. Picture: Archant library.Tim Passmore will be requesting approval for a 6.8pc increase in the council tax precept. Picture: Archant library.

This Friday, Tim Passmore will ask the county’s police and crime panel to back plans for a 6.8pc precept rise – adding an average £12 to the annual household bill but generating an extra £2.9m for the constabulary’s budget.

It follows the government’s relaxation of a precept cap, which had required a local referendum for proposed increases above 2pc.

The loosening of the cap came as the government announced £450m for all forces – contingent on more than half (£270m) being raised from local tax rises.

Mr Passmore’s survey of taxpayers returned a 65.8pc approval rating for the increase from 962 responses.

Some of those in disagreement suggested money could be saved by merging Suffolk and Norfolk’s control rooms – a move Mr Passmore has opposed – or by cutting costs in his own office.

But Mr Passmore insisted the PCC was more cost effective than the old authority system.

“We have already cut our budget from nearly £1.3m (2013/14) to under £950,000 (2016/17) while making levels of engagement, openness and transparency better than they were before,” he said.

“The Police Authority cost £100,000 more – and no one knew who they were.”

Mr Passmore contends that a 2pc rise would lead to an £800,000 saving requirement next year.

He has lobbied for government funding to be proportionate to other counties, including Norfolk, where he said officers dealt with 12pc fewer cases.

“If I want to maintain and improve policing, I have no alternative,” he said.

“I’m not prepared to sit around and let a serious situation get out of hand.

“Major savings would still be required if the precept went up by only 2pc.

“The minister may have listened when I made Suffolk’s case, but it hasn’t been acted upon. The current funding formula is unfair.

“I’m sick and tired of this county being treated like a second class citizen.

“We’re one of the few net contributors to the economy and it’s time that was properly recognised.”

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