Office of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner
Opens: 06 January 2017
Closes: 23 January 2017
A message from the Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott:
“I am responsible, as Police and Crime Commissioner, for determining the overall budget for policing in the county and for setting the amount that Kent Police receives from the annual council tax. Policing is mainly funded in two ways; about two thirds come from grants we receive from the Home Office and the rest from the council tax.
“For the next financial year, Kent will lose more than £2million of funding from the Home Office, as money is set to be taken away to pay for other things. I believe some of these, such as giving money to the courts service to pay for changes to police bail, are unfair and I will be challenging those.
“So in my first year as your Police and Crime Commissioner, I have been faced with a difficult choice. Ideologically, I am a low-tax Conservative. During the course of my campaign, I said that I did not want the precept to rise, unless it was needed to protect frontline policing. However, I believe that this announcement meets that test. In 2017/18, I am proposing that the council tax precept for Kent Police rises by 3.3%, equivalent to £5 for an average Band D household, supported by a contribution from reserves.
“These are the grounds for my proposal:
“Last year, residents were asked to contribute to the increase in the number of firearms officers. I have been holding the force to account to ensure that the 24 extra firearms officers promised will be delivered. This year’s rise in the council tax will help Kent Police go a little further and be even more readily able to respond in the event of a terrorist attack, such as those we have seen in Europe over Christmas. It also means I can fund the proposed increase in police officer numbers that residents have told me they want to see and we can keep PCSOs in the county as I promised, whereas other forces consider their future.
“Secondly, changes will be made so pressure will be taken off local policing teams in order that community visibility can improve in urban, rural and coastal areas. Mental health accounts for one third of all police time now in Kent and I am working with other public bodies, including the NHS, to understand and alleviate some of this demand on Kent Police officers’ time. Domestic abuse calls are on the increase, nearly doubling in recent years thanks to the confidence of victims in coming forward, and fraud and cyber-crime could soon account for more offences than any other crime type. Dedicated police teams will be established with support from police staff to address these issues.
“Vulnerability is the new Home Secretary’s top priority. We have seen here in Kent and Medway that, even now, people are continuing to target the vulnerable for their own gain. Those involved in modern day slavery, child sexual exploitation and human trafficking are not just using Kent as a gateway to and from the continent, but committing these crimes right here in our local communities. These often complex networks require substantial investment to investigate and disrupt.
“So, as you see, my proposal is about not standing still. I will be doing my bit as Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure Kent Police delivers an effective and efficient service to the residents of Kent and Medway. My new Police and Crime plan, which will be published soon, will set the Chief Constable’s priorities for the next four years and will reflect what residents told me they want and expect when I consulted with them in the autumn. I shall also hold the Chief Constable to account and provide the appropriate scrutiny so that we all get value for taxpayers’ money.
“Already, Kent Police has made in excess of £ 8 million of savings towards next year through better working, sharing procurement with other forces and investing in technology. That is on top of the £ 62 million of savings already achieved since 2011/12 by sharing a significant amount of back office functions with Essex Police and by collaborating on a number of projects with Kent Fire and Rescue Service. Even with the rise in council tax further savings need to be achieved and so, with the uncertainty over future funding levels, I have decided to support the force with up to £5million from reserves. This decision does not absolve the force from making those savings but does allow it to make them over a longer period.
“In 2015, when the then Chancellor announced police spending would be protected in cash terms, he did so on the basis that Police and Crime Commissioners increased their council tax precepts by the maximum amount allowable. His announcement did not account for the 1% pay rise awarded to police officers and staff, increases in national insurance contributions, and the new apprenticeship levy on organisations’ payrolls.
“In the future, we have opportunities. I am lobbying hard for Kent to get a better deal on police funding, so that the unique challenges we face here are properly recognised. There is a fund that we can apply to for extra resources for new technology and other projects that will help improve policing and the way forces work together. I will also be supporting Community Safety Partnerships and local charities who police officers and staff work with to make our communities safe.
“I believe that the proposal is fair and reasonable – £5 a year for an average household to fund more police officers and PCSOs, increased visibility in communities, investment in protecting the vulnerable and action to keep residents safe from emerging threats and terrorism.
“Even with this rise, the Band D precept in Kent will remain one of the lowest in the country at £157.15 for the year. The alternative is even fewer police officers and PCSOs, and less of a visible policing presence in our local communities.
“I hope that you will support these plans.”
Have your say
To let the Commissioner have your feedback on this proposal, please email email@example.com by 9am on Monday, January 23. Due to the volume of correspondence received, the Commissioner will not be able to respond to each email but all comments will be read by him personally. The Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel will be notified of this proposal for its review on Thursday, February 2.
Office of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner 6 January 2017