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Essex Police may add more to Harlow council tax bill

Politics / Thu 26th Nov 2015 at 10:19am

ESSEX Police is adopting a wait-and-see policy after the Chancellor George Osborne announced no real-terms cuts in force budgets in England and Wales in his Autumn Spending Review.

Mr Osborne the House of Commons the Government’s spending on police is to rise by £900m by 2020.

Essex Police had anticipated swingeing cuts and last month announced a number of police stations throughout the county would be closed to save cash, although Harlow’s would stay open.

As part of the planned economies to slash £63m by 2020, 62 administration workers may lose their jobs, 190 police community support officers will be axed and the force is close to selling off its 20-acre headquarters in Chelmsford.

Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston said: “I and others have been lobbying the Home Secretary hard in recent weeks with concerns over the levels of cuts to police funding we had been told to expect.

“I didn’t doubt that the government would listen carefully to what PCCs and chief officers have been saying, but I am delighted that it has responded by keeping the overall budget for policing at the present level through to 2020 and that it is giving some of us the freedom to lift the precept a little. I have strongly argued for this as it is crucial for us here in Essex.

“The chief constable and I are not going to take any immediate decisions. We will need to see the detail of how Essex will be affected, which we won’t know until mid December.

“However in anticipation of the need to make tough savings we have worked hard to truly understand what matters to our communities: tackling the changing crime types that cause such dreadful harm; delivering much better and more modern ways for the public to contact the police; and providing the best possible response to emergencies among many other issues.

“We are determined to move quickly to address these important areas and we now have a new opportunity to do that.

“I am also currently reviewing what the option to raise the precept by more than two per cent might mean. I am likely to argue that any additional money raised through local tax is used specifically for local policing.

“In light of the announcement today I am aware that many people will be asking whether the current proposals to reduce the number of PCSOs employed by Essex Police will be reversed. The chief constable and I will take time for reflection before taking any decisions.”

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