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