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Why I think you should pay more council tax for policing

Gareth Wilson, Suffolk's current Chief Constable, is set to retire in April.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Gareth Wilson, Suffolk's current Chief Constable, is set to retire in April. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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In his latest column, Suffolk chief constable GARETH WILSON writes about why an increase in council tax is needed to pay for more policing.

This week will see the police and crime commissioner’s attendance at the Police and Crime Panel, where he will seek the panel’s endorsement of his candidate to replace me as chief constable and also to argue for an increase in the amount you all pay for policing.

Steve Jupp has been my deputy for the past few years and has shown his love for both Suffolk and also policing of the county.

A ‘copper’s copper’, his leadership will be welcomed by staff and feared by criminals. His passion will mean your constabulary will keep growing and adapting to meet ever-changing needs.

Knowing Steve as I do, his passion to keep people safe and lock up villains will be at the centre of all he does. I wish him well in his attendance at the panel.

The second major presentation by the PCC will be to argue the need to increase the amount local taxpayers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of policing.

Those who have read my columns and my articles in the media for the last few months will have heard my grave concern at the level of funding for policing and in particular Suffolk Constabulary.

With the increasing demands placed upon my officers and staff, the added complexity of the investigations they undertake and the more diverse nature of the incidents they are called to, more funding is required to enable an effective service.

The PCC will argue the need to increase the policing precept by £2 a month for the average ‘band D’ property. Some of that money will be needed to meet the inflationary demands upon the budget but will also allow the organisation to grow.

It will be a good start that will enable my organisation to invest in the areas that will keep all communities safe. To enable the PCC to consider the increase, I made proposals that would make a real difference to you all and that would allow more criminals to be caught and investigations to be carried out in a more timely way.

I thought I would use this column to explain what I have proposed and why it will be a good use of your money.

This investment will enable the recruitment of an additional 29 police officers, 24 Suffolk police staff investigators and a share of 45 additional police staff with Norfolk.

The first big area for investment is further development of Automatic Number Plate Recognition. This has really shown its worth within the county over the past few years and is effective in rural and urban areas alike.

The vehicle-based equipment enables more efficient use of officers’ time by identifying vehicles suspected to be used by criminals, be they drug dealers, hare coursers or those who choose not to insure their vehicles. Everything we do must ensure we use our resources wisely and efficiently.

This investment excites me. It will enable not only the vehicle-based kit but grow our network of fixed sites at strategically important locations on the road network along with the back office support that will mean the information on the system is up to date and with real focus.

This will be supported by some of the additional police officers and more vehicles to ensure when a vehicle ‘pings’ on the system, then the vehicle is stopped and criminals detained.

The second area for investment I will highlight is the 24 police staff investigators to support our detectives investigate some of the more complex and serious investigations.

The complexity of today’s investigations, because of technology and other factors, means detectives have to spend far more time on each case.

We also know the length of the investigation is one of the areas that cause victims concern. That’s why this investment is so important, it will allow more efficient use of detectives’ time and speedier investigations with suspects brought to justice.

We’ve all seen the issues relating to drug misuse within Ipswich and these proposals will see an additional eight police officers for the safer neighbourhood teams within our county town.

This will allow more community engagement and also allow us to work with partners to ensure long-term solutions are progressed.

Other investments will be made in our continuing fight against cybercrime, bringing people to justice, in technology, and supporting investigations.

In total, £4.4million will be invested in people and technology - but this is only the start of what is needed and the PCC and I will continue to fight for fairer funding for Suffolk from central government.

So, with Steve as the PCC’s choice to be the new chief and the additional resources this investment to bring, the future of policing in Suffolk looks bright.

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