I am pleased to be able to tell you that our proposed budgets for Essex Police and for Essex County Fire & Rescue Service have been approved by the Police, Fire and Crime Panel which met yesterday (Thursday, January 24th).
For Essex Police this means that we will raise funding by £23m. Together with further efficiency and productivity gains, this will result in Essex Police being able to recruit a further 215 police officers over the next year to focus on visible, frontline policing. This is on top of the additional 150 officers we have recruited in 2018/19.
At the end of last year I carried out a public survey and more than 71 per cent of respondents said they would be prepared to invest more in policing to help improve the service provided. Seventy-three per cent of positive respondents said they would be prepared to pay at least £20 a year more. In the light of that and following discussions with the Chief Constable, I am going to increase the policing element of the Council Tax by £24 a year for the average household, the maximum permitted by government without a referendum. This will mean that the average Band D property will pay £192.96 for policing in a year, an increase of £2 per month. The current levy is £169.02 per year.
In relation to the budget for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, I have been given approval by the Police, Fire and Crime Panel to increase the precept by 2.94%, roughly the rate of inflation. This will be equivalent to an increase of £2.07 a year resulting in a rise from £70.38 to £72.45 for a Band D Council Tax property.
The total budget for Essex Police is £300.5 million. £175.8 million will be from central Government and £124.6 million will be drawn from local taxation.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service’s total budget is £73 million, with £46.9 million coming from Council Tax, £24. 5 million from government grants and the balance being drawn from the service's more than adequate reserves.
This is an ambitious set of measures to improve policing across our county and get ahead of the increase in crime and disorder that we have seen. It will also underpin the effectiveness of our fire and rescue service. Any increase in tax has an impact and I do not take the decision to increase precepts for both police and fire and rescue services lightly. However, I have heard the feedback from the public about the improvements we need to make and this money will make a real difference.
As you know last year, I increased the policing element of the Council Tax which led to 150 additional officers joining Essex Police. These officers have been recruited, trained and are already arriving in communities across the county.
People across the county have been telling me that they want more police officers and that they are prepared to pay more to get them. Now that my budget has been approved it will mean the Chief Constable will be able to bring police officers numbers up to 3,200 by March next year which will get Essex Police near where it needs to be to deal with the levels of demand we are seeing.
The money will be invested in 215 additional police officers on top of the 150 recruited this year as well as 32 operational police staff and 18 police support staff. They will be divided into a number of teams including:
In terms of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, the budget for 2019/2020 will include investment in a number of initiatives including:
Full details of the budget are available to view as part of the published papers for the Police, Fire and Crime Panel. They are available here
An audio recording of the panel meeting is available here
Thank you for your support in helping to keep Essex safe.
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner
Office of The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex