Blog: Your hard-earned money helping the police to keep us all safe

Last month the Suffolk Police and Crime Panel approved my budget proposals for the next financial year, which includes an extra £3.8 million for our police force from your Council Tax. Whilst I’m pleased to have received the panel’s support, this was a particularly difficult decision this year as I am well aware of the additional financial pressures many individuals and families are experiencing due to the pandemic. I can assure you this extra funding is essential every penny will be spent wisely.

Over the last two years the force has made some very significant progress in tackling criminality in Suffolk particularly on drug offences and burglaries. During the lockdown some levels of crime have decreased such as shoplifting and business crime; something we all welcome. Unfortunately, there has been an increase of more than a quarter in recorded levels of domestic abuse in the last year and the surge in online crime continues.

In order to maintain the county’s reputation as being a safe place in which to live and work, the police do need extra resources, so more officers and support staff need to be recruited. Your extra money will pay for an additional 25 officers and up to 26 staff. This increase complements the government’s national uplift programme which will fund an extra 53 officers in the next financial year. By the end of March 2022, there will be at least 1330 Suffolk police officers– many more than when I was first elected as PCC in 2012.

Many of you have requested greater police visibility across the county and boosting this visibility is a top priority for the next financial year. Effective communication is fundamental for maintaining public trust and confidence in policing and helping keep crime levels low. Those principles of policing by consent, the reliance on the flow of information from the citizen to the Constabulary are vital. And whilst there has been major investment in call handling recently, there are still too many calls to the 101 service taking too long to conclude. I completely understand this is a source of frustration for many of you, so investment will continue next year to make it easier and quicker to contact Suffolk Police

At the same time, I’m pleased to report more and more contacts are now made via social media, email and the website. This “channel shift” is working well and it helps to optimise police resources.

I have always believed a major deterrent for criminality is the likelihood of being caught, prosecuted and convicted. To achieve this objective requires higher detection rates and an efficient criminal justice system. The detective recruitment programme has been very successful over the last couple of years and needs to continue so more offenders will be brought to justice. The pattern of crime is also becoming more complex and, as I mentioned earlier, the prevalence of online offences is rising exponentially which is why once again further investment in the force’s cyber capabilities and expertise is required.

The precept increase will also fund extra support staff to enable police officers to maximise the use of their warranted powers to the full. These extra civilian staff play a vital role in improving police performance.

There are several other benefits to Suffolk which will be delivered in the next financial year ranging from fraud prevention, work with young people and reducing the prevalence of exploitation such as forced labour and child sexual offences. The detailed plans for this important work will be set out on my website and updated on a quarterly basis.

Lastly, I wouldn’t want anyone to underestimate the focus there is within the force on making savings and improving productivity. The success of our delivery plans are dependent on making permanent saving of over £3million next year.

Please understand everything possible will be done to guarantee your hard-earned money will be well spent helping the Constabulary to keep us all safe.

Published in the East Anglian Daily Times February 2021