Sussex Police budget to rise

A scrutiny panel has given its backing to a Sussex Police budget that will see investment in services including safeguarding vulnerable children and tackling cybercrime.Police car web_cropped

The budget includes a 1.98 per cent increase in council tax – the equivalent to an additional £2.79 per household, per year on a Band D property.

At a meeting on Friday, January 23, the Sussex Police and Crime Panel quizzed Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne on plans for the force and the reason behind the increase in its precept.

The rise in its share of council tax will achieve an additional £2.6million for Sussex Police, money that Ms Bourne assured the panel would be used to improve the service and not plug holes in the budget.

The extra funding will be targeted at providing mobile devices for frontline officers, recruiting Sexual Offence Liaison Officers for investigations into sexual offences, high risk domestic abuse, child abuse and sexual exploitation.

There were suggestions from members of the Panel that Sussex Police could freeze their share of the council tax and take advantage of a promised Government grant.

But Katy Bourne told members: “We don’t know how long grant will last for – the £1.6m increase in the budget will stay, so is worth a lot more than the £800,000 grant for freezing.”

Calls for greater collaboration between forces in the south east and a reduction in cost for the commissioner’s office were made by Panel members.

But the commissioner assured the Panel that work on greater collaboration with other forces is ongoing and that the cost of running her own office is kept to a minimum, with no increase since her arrival in 2012.

Satisfied that all areas for savings had been explored and that the additional funding would be used to improve important services, the Panel voted in favour of the budget.

After the meeting Panel chairman Cllr Brad Watson said: “We were pleased to hear that additional money raised through the increase will be targeted used to enhance frontline policing, fight the growing threat of cyber-crime and protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“We were also delighted to hear that our taxpayers are paying the fourth lowest precept for policing in the country and the lowest, by a significant margin, for the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.”

Other reports to the Panel included improvements in the recording of crimes, the setting up of a Senior citizen commission to help inform the commissioner and an update on the model for how Sussex Police will deliver its services in the future.

The next meeting of the Police and Crime Panel will take place on Friday, April 24 at 10.30am.

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