Another year – another survey

Current Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne (right) with a police officer

The one thing we can be sure of with our Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne is that there will always be another  survey!

I acknowledge that the PCCs should consult with the public, but we are in grave danger of suffering from survey fatigue. She has been in office since November 2012 so surely she knows by now what the priorities for policing should be in the eyes of the residents of Sussex.

However, having said this, I urge all of the Sussex public not to ignore this latest one. Why? Because this is the one where each year she asks us, the public, whether we would be prepared to pay more through our council tax for policing in our county. The importance of this should not be overlooked.

This is because, however small the sample is taking part in the survey, if the vote is in favour of a rise, however small the majority, she will use this to persuade the Sussex Police and Crime Panel to once again increase the council tax precept for policing.

Now you may be quite happy with this. However, if like me you are not, then you need to ensure that she knows your feelings. You may well be asking the question as to why I, as a retired senior officer, do not support such a rise. There are a number of reasons, but I will focus on just two.

Picking up government’s responsibility

Firstly, the amount of money supplied by central government for policing has substantially decreased. This money comes from general taxation. However, the government is more than happy for local authorities to increase council tax to pay for policing because this relieves them of the financial burden. It will also say that this shows that the public are happy to pay for additional policing, and this is no doubt why they removed the cap on council tax increases. This of course applies to other public services in addition to policing.

However, one of my main concerns with giving Mrs. Bourne more money is that this will enable her to further support a number of her pet projects. The government withholds a certain amount of the police budget in order to allow PCCs to apply for funding to support so called crime reduction schemes as well as others supporting the rehabilitation of offenders as well as victims and witnesses.

However, in the case of Sussex, Mrs Bourne has publicised her various successes in achieving shares of this funding, but has then chosen to use this money to fund various schemes which do not contribute anything whatsoever to support front line policing or indeed the priorities as determined by the public of Sussex in her surveys!

“Platitudes and waffle”

Most of that which she supports, I consider to be nothing more than talking shops and gimmicks. When I have regularly posed questions to her regarding outcomes from these various schemes, all I have received are platitudes and waffle by way of a response.

Therefore, I if you feel as strongly as I do, I urge you, the public of Sussex, to complete her survey and let her know your views and feelings. I include the link here: SPCC – Precept survey 2021/22 (sussex-pcc.gov.uk)

Finally, please also remember that May 2021 sees the elections for PCCs which were postponed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting turnout in the past regarding these elections has been very low. I hope that as many of the general public as possible will vote this time around.

Please don’t use your vote in line with party politics. Politics has no part in policing in my view. Vote for an individual who shows that they truly understand policing and who is prepared to bring about a style of policing that we, the public of Sussex, deserve!

Image Credits: David McHugh .

4 COMMENTS

  1. As an Ex-Sussex police officer I could not agree more with Kevin Moore. Obviously Mrs Bourne did not get the answer she required from the recently published survey so she has now set up another one, ostensibly to more reflect the opinions of ‘younger’ residents of the county, to this end it is described as a ‘gamified’ public survey. Apparently the replies from over 55 year olds did not conform to the aspirations of the PCC, so she wants those who did not have an interest in the first survey to be drawn into the equation by dumbing down the approach to younger potential respondents.

    In my view this typifies the attitude of Sussex Police toward the public. They seem to be more interested in turning the force into a social service than to police the county and reduce crime, which surprise, surprise, is what the majority of the public want.

    Policing, by the very nature of the job, involves an initial response to domestic disputes, children getting into trouble, drunks and drug takers committing offences, but after the first approach social services provided by local authorities should take over. The priorities of the police are to protect lives and property, tasks which appear to coincide with the wishes of the general public. It is not necessary to have yet another survey to discover that.

    But as that is not what the PCC wants she will continue to survey, just like the EU, until she gets the correct response.

    No increase in the Police precept would be required if the money already raised from our council tax were to be spent on the police priority of enforcing the law, not diverted to become a second social sevice.

  2. This is a really interesting debate, and it’s nice to get some informed commentaries. Having looked at the survey, there’s an option to have no increase but nowhere to explain why – and central govt funding is a very relevant factor, as outlined above. Personally, I might actually consider hearing how a £10 or £15 locally-raised surcharge might be spent on additional policing, but I wouldn’t support it to the detriment of declining central govt funding.
    I am interested to know from Mr Moore and Mr Came what are the initiatives the PCC has championed which they disagree with? They weren’t outlined.
    If it’s simply that the Police should not be the back stop for under-funded social care, I agree, but just wondered if you could shed more light?
    Thanks to all those Sussex police officers and CSOs continuing to serve us over the festive period.

  3. The Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) has approved a recommendation to approve funding for 17 projects across 2018/19 and 2019/2020 under the Safe:Space funding network. This amounted to nearly £600,000, but must be OK as it is designated a ‘statutory duty’.

    So taking this money from the Police budget relieves Social Services from having to provide similar.

    There are many other examples.

  4. Interesting article by Kevin Moore: thanks, very informative. All UK governments try to shift blame to local authorities (sometimes vice-versa) for financial cuts and responsibilities. This applies not only to policing but social and health care services and other services us residents value. The whole issue of local government needs urgent reform.

    I’ve never really understood the need for Police and Crime Commissioners? Were they just one of Theresa May’s ‘pet projects’. Be interested in the view from police officers, if they are allowed to comment?

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