Public to be quizzed about policing

PEOPLE living in Suffolk are to be asked their views on policing in the county - including how much they are willing to pay for it.Suffolk Constabulary has asked market research company MORI to interview 1,000 people from across the county on what issues they feel should be prioritised in the force.

PEOPLE living in Suffolk are to be asked their views on policing in the county - including how much they are willing to pay for it.

Suffolk Constabulary has asked market research company MORI to interview 1,000 people from across the county on what issues they feel should be prioritised in the force.

The research, which will be conducted next month and in early November, will help Suffolk Police Authority as they draw up plans for next year's budget.

It will be run at the same time as another survey by company SWIFT which will interview 400 businesses to gather views on policing priorities.


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Christine Laverock, chairman of Suffolk Police Authority, said: "The last time we carried out a major consultation exercise was back in the year 2000. The people of Suffolk made it quite clear that their number one policing priority was to see more police officers out and about in their local areas – and that they were prepared to pay extra to finance them.

"We listened carefully to these views and launched the Suffolk First initiative, which is based on the recruitment of 200 extra front-line officers and investment in scientific support.

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"Now, two years later, we are beginning to see the fruits of this extra investment. The latest figures show that not only is Suffolk becoming safer, people are feeling safer as well.

"In fact, when compared against a range of key indicators, Suffolk is now the third safest county in England, behind only the Welsh forces of Dyfed Powys and Gwent.

"We are about to begin the process of looking at our budgets for next year and beyond. The consultation exercise will allow us to feed in local opinion on what people want from their police service and how much they are prepared to pay for it."

The results of both surveys should be ready in time for the Police Authority's budget meeting in January.

Last year, the authority's share of the council tax bill rose 33.4% to £109.49 for a Band D taxpayer - one of the largest rises in the country.

Mrs Laverock said: "Last year, the amount of money provided by the government for policing Suffolk was one of the lowest in the country and did not provide enough to keep up our current level of service, never mind allow us to make the improvements needed to make our county safer.

"While we cannot forecast with certainty how much money will come from government next year, we have to consider now what the implications of a similar settlement would be."

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