Police chiefs in Norfolk will continue to face difficult decisions in the coming years, despite a decision to increase the force’s share of council tax.
Members of the county’s police and crime panel unanimously voted to increase the charge by two per cent at a meeting in Norwich yesterday.
The move will add £4.23 a year, around eight pence a week, to bills for an average band D property.
Norfolk police and crime commissioner Lorne Green said: “This is not a decision I have taken lightly. It was an extremely tough call.
“I have heard the message loud and clear from the Chief Constable on the challenges he faces in light of mounting essential demands; however I am also very aware that it is no easy decision for taxpayers who are asked to bear an additional burden to sustain, and hopefully improve, crime prevention and fighting in our county. I have been mindful of both in coming to my decision.
“I said in the run up to the PCC election and have continued to say, that I would only consider increasing the precept if I was convinced the constabulary was driving out real and sustainable efficiencies and was exploring all options for further savings. I have been pushing the Force hard in this area and will continue to do so. By April over £30m of savings will have been achieved by Norfolk Constabulary; half through collaboration with our Suffolk partners. That is reassuring but that work must continue.
“I am very aware that the nature of crime is changing and the force must adapt to meet each and every challenge. The skills and infrastructure required to investigate such serious crimes as child exploitation, sexual abuse and on-line fraud, are difficult, complex and resource intensive. This comes at a cost.
“However I have made it clear that even in tough times I want to try and improve the Force in areas such as police visibility and engagement. I also want to ensure our officers are equipped to stay ahead of the criminals to fight 21st century crimes. To do that the force must continue to innovate and explore all avenues. I will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account in these areas.”
The decision followed a public consultation on the tax charge, which the meeting was told showed a three to one majority in favour of an increase.
Mr Green added: “I am under no illusions however, and even with this precept rise Norfolk Constabulary still has a mountain to climb. No-one can be in any doubt that the Force still faces extremely difficult decisions over the next few years. I am afraid that is the reality of the situation.”