Norfolk police commissioner criticised over tax consultation

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Community leaders in Swaffham have claimed the town is not getting the service it was promised by police chiefs, despite the possibility of another council tax rise.

There are now two weeks left of a public consultation on whether the amount residents pay towards the service should be increased or not.

Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, Stephen Bett, yesterday dismissed criticism of the process as “ridiculous.”

And he insisted that the changing nature of crimes the force was dealing with required different forms of response.

But, during Wednesday’s town council meeting, mayor Anne Thorp claimed senior officers had failed to deliver on a pledge to increase police presence in the town.

She said reinforcements had been promised during a previous meeting, but added: “We’re not seeing more officers here.”

The comment was made on the same night that Mr Bett held the first of two public meetings as part of his consultation on the question of raising the police precept by around two per cent.

That meeting was held at County Hall in Norwich, while a second meeting will take place at Lynn’s town hall at noon on Monday.

But town and district councillor Shirley Matthews questioned the value of the sessions, because of Mr Bett’s previous record.

She said: “All you’re going to hear is him putting his money up yet again. Is there any point? He’s done it year after year after year.

“It’s only to tell you why he’s putting his money up if you want to try to explain to him what he should do instead.”

But Mr Bett, whose current term as commissioner will end in May when a fresh election for the post takes place, said: “It’s a ridiculous comment.

“I’m not going to make any decision until after the consultation closes.”

He said that, of 14 members of the public who attended the Norwich meeting, 12 had supported the idea of an increase, while only two backed a freeze.

He added: “The chief constable has put his case forward for a precept increase. The consultation goes on until January 29.

“Policing has changed in terms of the type of crimes the constabulary is having to respond to. People on the beat are not necessarily going to be able to deal with cyber crime or child sexual exploitation.

“The chief constable will decide what money is spent where and we will go from there.”

The results of the current consultation will be reported at the meeting of the Norfolk police and crime panel on February 2, where a final decision is likely to be made.

To take part, visit, email or phone 01953 424455.

Comments can also be made by writing to Budget Consultation, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, Building 8, Jubilee House, Falconers Chase, Wymondham, NR18 OWW.