Blog: Budget proposals for the next financial year

At the end of this month I’ll present my budget proposals for the next financial year to the Police and Crime Panel to seek their approval; an integral part of that process is deciding what level of the policing part of your council tax to recommend.
This is always a difficult decision as I do try to keep the tax burden to a minimum and yet I must balance the needs of the Constabulary in order to keep Suffolk as one of the safest force areas in the country.
The main purpose of our police force is to keep people, homes and businesses safe and free from harm and to deter and prevent criminal activity in Suffolk and there are still big challenges to face. Last year I promised to keep you all informed on what your extra council tax was being spent on and I’m happy to report all those proposals are now delivered. There are now 28 extra officers employed, with the largest proportion being recruited to the Sentinel teams, who have a stellar track record in apprehending nearly two hundred criminals in just a few months. In addition, 45 additional investigators are in post to help drive up detection rates and place more offenders in court. Full detail of the 2019/20 precept spend is on my website
This year however, matters are more complicated because there has been a delay in the Home Office announcing our funding settlement. Ever since I was elected as Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, the Home Office announcement has been made before Christmas alongside the limits for any increase in the policing element of your Council Tax. This year however, it has been delayed considerably.
In our financial planning I have based my recommendations on the assumption of a 70p per month increase (4%) for a band D property. We, the Chief Constable and I, have agreed how this possible funding will be allocated and detail of how we would allocate it is on my website, it would be great it you could take a look and tell me what you think. This can be done by visiting our website and completing our Council Tax online survey at
For the coming year I believe it’s a very good idea to build on the success of the Sentinel Teams. Providing them with additional support to maximise their impact. Securing more prosecutions (I hope) sends a strong message to criminals that they are likely to be caught and punished and this will act as a deterrent to those wishing to cause trouble in Suffolk.
Some excellent progress has also been made on eliminating the county lines drugs business but I do realise there is still much more to be done especially in west Suffolk. This threat continues to be the most serious challenge our county faces and therefore more resources are required to tackle this threat. These organised crime groups behind the drugs business are often implicated in other crimes cimes such as domestic slavery, illegal immigration and child sexual exploitation – offences I find particularly repulsive and sinister.
Suffolk is a huge rural county and I’d like to reassure all of you I have listened to those who are concerned about rural crime and would like more policing in the market towns and villages. So some of the extra money could provide an enhance police presence in the countryside so there can be more emphasis on visibility, missing people and crime prevention.
It’s also important to separate these precept proposals from the significant increase in police officer numbers set out by the government as part of their commitment to raise the number of officers in England and Wales by 20,000 before the end of March 2023. This uplift announced by Government last year is excellent news for the whole of Suffolk and the west of the county in particular.
So to finish, I’d be very pleased if you take part in the survey before I make my final decision about the policing element of the council tax. The deadline is 5pm on Thursday 30th January, so if you’re interested please do that right away!

Published in the Bury Free Press    January 2020