Our Saturday independent columnist Observer writes an open letter to the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne.
Dear Mrs Bourne,
My council tax bill dropped through the letterbox this week and I winced. I was not alone in this reaction.
The accompanying police leaflet makes interesting reading and I note that you call out the Government for freezing the grant and making it clear that “local communities are expected to meet an increasing proportion of policing costs”.
You add: “This is why they [the Government] have allowed PCCs [police and crime commissioners] to increase the police precept.”
I get it.
This decision by Theresa May and Philip Hammond changes the dynamic and relationship totally.
This is no longer a police force toeing the line from the Home Office.
Sussex Police, and their counterparts, are now, more than ever, beholden to the local electors.
It’s a move I entirely welcome.
At last the police will be doing what local people want.
Visible, local policing
It is something you acknowledge in the missive, that we are all receiving, when you say that Sussex residents want to see their precept contributions funding more ”visible, local policing”.
Yes, we do.
Uckfield people have been saying that for a long time.
The visible police presence had disappeared from this town until recently, when an upsurge in anti-social behaviour brought a belated – but still welcome – response.
I, and others in this town, will hold you to account on that promise.
We want a regular visible police presence in the town centre and the residential areas.
Cars dashing up and down the High Street doesn’t count.
You, as the police and crime commissioner, must ensure that the chief constable understands the new priorities.
Can I also suggest that there are some tasks that should no longer be within the operational remit of Sussex Police.
One, would be counter-terrorism, which surely is of national importance so needs a national police force.
Major fraud would also fall under this heading.
I know it goes against the grain, but you should be pushing for a national police force, paid for by the Government, with the county constabularies left to deal with the day-to-day concerns of local people.
As I said earlier, you have signalled that the relationship has changed between taxation and the people.
Uckfield Town Council
Uckfield will look for results.
Ideally, Wealden District Council will keep Sussex Police up to the mark but in reality, I suspect Uckfield Town Council will end up being the people holding you to account.
Would you like to come to Uckfield and address a town meeting?
You’d be most welcome.
Uckfield Civic Centre, owned by the town council, has a very suitable hall to accommodate such a meeting.
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