Letter to Editor: Why are police bosses looking for more money (again and again)?

Crime / Sat 11th Jan 2020 am31 11:42am

Dear Editor,

I WAS interested, if not a little frustrated, to read the comments made by Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for Essex, on YourHarlow 6/1/20. This seems a very similar story.

First of all, despite standing against Hirst in 2016, I do believe he is committed to delivering the best police service to our County. However, once again he is being forced by his own Conservative government to go cap in hand to the people of Essex and ask them if they are willing to have a further increase in their Council Tax. Only last year, the percentage of Council Tax going towards police funding increased. Potentially he is now being forced to ask for even more!

Once again I stress that funding for policing should come from central government in a progressive taxation system where those who can afford to pay more do. Personally I think that the fact there are only three bands of income tax is ridiculous and welcomed Labour’s plans to introduce another band between 80 and 150 thousand pounds a year for this very reason.

The PFCC asks if people would be willing to pay more Council Tax for more policing and of course the answer for many people who want to see police back in their communities will be “yes”. However, the reality is that raising funding in this way is not progressive and potentially causes further difficulties for families in Harlow who are already struggling to pay the bills as a consequence of the Tory government’s disastrous roll out of Universal Credit.

I would urge Commissioner Hirst to continue to lobby central government for more funding, not only to address the regional imbalance from which Essex suffers, but to secure a greater budget to recruit more officers and keep our communities safe.

Obviously he’ll have to wait until the Prime Minister gets back from his holidays!

Chris Vince

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3 Comments for Letter to Editor: Why are police bosses looking for more money (again and again)?:

2020-01-12 10:44:44

The rather simple answer here is you get what you pay for. The cost of the police service for those paying council tax (a minority of all residents) in Essex is one of the lowest in England. Figures from 2015, the latest I could find, shows that only those in Lincolnshire and Wiltshire pay less and the number of police staff per 100.000 population was the 5th lowest, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, Cambridgeshire, Wiltshire then Essex. Interestingly though, residents in Staffordshire and Wiltshire were in the top 11 counties most satisfied with their police service. The sum being sought to improve services is really small but will make a significant difference to police numbers which must be welcomed. Whether or not a Commissioner and his team of well paid officers gives any added value to the service is a subject which needs wider debate.

tony edwards
2020-01-12 22:06:02

You might find the link below interesting on Police funding. It shows that central government funding 2015 - 2020 went up by £3 million from £172.5m to £178.5 whilst the amount raised from the Council Tax Precept went up by £35 million from £88.1m to £123.1m. What we are clearly seeing is a switch from general taxation to retrogressive local taxation, driven by a Government who likes to claim that Austerity ended and that they (the government) are recruiting more police. What they are actually saying is you the community are allowed to recruit more police, to replace the ones we the Government cut, but only if you are prepared to pay for them through local taxation. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/815102/police-funding-england-and-wales-2015-to-2020-hosb1019.pdf

2020-02-03 16:16:49

Essex Police need more money to tackle a 18.4 percent increase in all crime, including a 46.2 percent increase in domestic abuse and a 7.5 percent increase in violence with injury. Also, technology is increasing costs with the Athena police computer still creating stability and performance issues which the PFCC annual report states it requires a 'significant and expensive IT enabled change programme.' Also, difficulties with the Emergency Services Mobile Communication Programme needs more investment. Sadly, more warranted police officers are being injured with a consequent increase in sick leave. In the year 2018/19 some 992 Essex Police officers were assaulted with 251 of those assaults causing injury. This is nearly a 24 per cent increase on the year before. These figures do not include PCSOs. Police sickness due to stress, anxiety and depression has been a recurring issue, although the contracting of Harlow Occupational Health Services has seen a benefit. Perhaps our local politicians might try understanding the resource difficulties of our police service and then the problem will be addressed in a responsible fashion.

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