Raising the police portion of the council tax by almost two per cent may become an “annual thing”, according to Northamptonshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
On Tuesday, members of the county’s Police and Crime Panel voted six to three in favour of increasing the police’s precept by 1.99 per cent for the second year in a row.
PCC Simmonds said the money raised from the tax rise was “ring fenced” to help support victims of crime, including those affected by child sexual exploitation and young people impacted by domestic and sexual violence.
Mr Simmonds said: “There is no funding stream for victims and if I did not raise the precept I would have to take it out of the police budget and I have committed to keeping officer levels at 1,220.
“It works out as about eight pence per household. It may become an annual thing.
“I believe it is justified. Most of us in the county are not going to be victims of crime but, if they are, I want a ‘Rolls Royce’ service.”
Mr Simmonds said he believed he was on track to make £23 million of savings by 2018. He has so far saved £13 million towards the target.
He said: “The new technology is helping use to be more efficient and reduce back office staff.”
Mr Simmonds said he was also saving money by a restructure of the ranks, so there were more constables and less sergeants, creating a “flatter” force.
The PCC has also pledged to continue the drive to recruit more special constables, with an aim of recruiting 900 by May next year.
The force currently has 500 special constables and is hoping to introduce ‘parish constables’ from volunteers in towns and villages across the county.
Mr Simmonds has put a contract out to tender offering between £50,000 and £500,000 to a firm that can increase the amount of special constables to 900.
He said the force was going to have to become “more creative” with its advertising and made no apologies for paying an outside firm to recruit special constables.
Mr Simmonds said: “In terms of visibility, the OPCC has listened to the public and responded to an overwhelming desire to ensure police visibility across communities remains a key priority.
“And building on that strong foundation of police visibility, this budget will continue our investment
in the biggest expansion of the Special Constabulary anywhere in the country, as well as a further expansion of
parish constables, delivering a dedicated policing presence
in local communities.”
Mr Simmonds has also set aside £1 million to further strengthen services to protect children and other vulnerable people.
He said: “There is an urgent and pressing need to increase protection of children across our county.
“This is not just for those in the care of the State, but in everyday homes across Northamptonshire.
“Whether it be through online activity, social media, mobile phones and gaming, our children are increasingly at risk.
“I am passionate that those who prey on children will be caught and dealt with and our services across all agencies to those at risk of exploitation are strengthened.”
Twenty per cent increase in complaints against the police
The number of complaints against Northamptonshire Police increased by 20 per cent over a 12-month period, according to new figures by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The figures also showed that the force was the only one in the country that dealt with 100 per cent of complaints within 10 working days.
The report, published on Monday, showed that in 2011/12 there were 376 complaints. In 2012/13 there were 371 complaints and in 2013/14 there were 444 complaints.
The IPCC figures also showed Northamptonshire Police had a 41 per cent increase in the number of allegations against police officers in 2013/14 with 609, compared to 432 in 2012/14. This was among the highest in the country.
Of that figure, 327 were investigated, 57 were withdrawn and 125 were resolved locally. Of those investigated, 74 per cent were upheld (242).
Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds said: “Following the coverage of the Jimmy Savile case, people generally feel more confident about making a complaint as they know someone will take them seriously.
“When we have done something wrong, I want people to feel confident that we will deal with their complaint appropriately.”