Blog: Council tax precept decision

It’s decision time again for budget setting, and what level of Council tax to charge for policing in Suffolk for the next financial year. The background for this year’s decision is again the need to keep people, homes and businesses safe, and removing bad people and criminals from our society.
Last year’s extra money for policing from the council tax has been very well used and the increased focus on organised crime groups, violence and county lines and illegal drug use has produced some stellar results. Officers in the new Sentinel Team have arrested over 160 dangerous criminals in Suffolk in the last six months.
We have considered a wide range of suggestions and listened to your views and concerns as part of the decision-making process. Unfortunately, I’m unable to say precisely what the council tax charge will be because we have still not received our financial settlement from the Home Office. This is very frustrating because as your Police and Crime Commissioner I have to present the budget proposals and council tax plans to the Police and Crime Panel at the end of January.
Consequently, my plans assume a 4% increase, equivalent to 70p per month extra for a Band D property but this comes with a health warning that the plans might have to change slightly. As always there are difficult choices to make when setting the council tax, but I must balance the need to keep people safe with what level your council tax should be – and I believe this balance to be correct.
Simultaneously, it’s important to recognise the good news concerning the government’s commitment to recruiting 20,000 more police officers during the next three years. In Suffolk our share of the additional police should be around 170 posts so by March 2021 there will be 54 more officers (plus support staff and equipment) in Suffolk thanks to this government initiative.
The proposed increase in council tax will deliver even more officers and staff so the Constabulary is able to have more focus on serious crime and bring more criminals to justice so they are prosecuted and convicted. The areas of criminality that will receive this extra focus include county lines and illegal drug dealing and the links with organised crime groups. I know there has been a lot of progress in tackling these threats but there is still much more to do, which is why I believe these extra resources are justified.
The precept proposal supports works to reduce other heinous crimes linked to these serious crime groups such as child sexual exploitation, modern slavery and child sexual exploitation. Whilst these crimes are often regarded as hidden harm they have a devastating impact not only on the individual, families and even whole communities. Included in my proposals is more funding to help make the Serious Crime Disruption Team even more effective, this will result in more successful prosecutions and more criminals put behind bars where they belong. I hope the new commercial vehicle unit will also have a significant role to play with this work.
In my proposal I’m also asking you to finance a new domestic abuse perpetrator programme to reduce the reoffending rates of the perpetrators. Tackling domestic abuse is very important and a mainstay of my Police and Crime Plan and I think this programme will make a positive difference to the victims of the most serious cases of abuse especially when young children are involved.
Lastly, there is an online survey regarding the council tax coupled with a detailed explanation of what policing activity will be financed with your extra money. It would be really helpful if you spend a few minutes looking at our website and filling in the survey. The results will be published at the very end of January.
Overall, I hope you agree my proposals for the council tax, coupled with the uplift in numbers from the government will make next year a good one for safety and bad news for the criminals.

Published in the East Anglian Daily Times  January 2020