Surrey residents face a 4.2 per cent increase in the policing element of their council tax bills despite Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend’s proposal being resoundingly rejected in a recent public consultation and, more narrowly, by the county’s Police and Crime Panel.
Some 3,300 residents took part in the survey, which asked residents whether they would be prepared to pay the suggested £13 extra a year, a figure between £10 and £13, or a figure lower than £10.
Only 41 per cent of respondents said they would support the £13 increase for 2024-25, 11 per cent voted for £12, and 2 per cent said they would be prepared to pay £11. A further 7 per cent voted for £10 a year, while the remaining 39 per cent opted for a figure below £10.
The commissioner’s suggested 4.2 per cent increase was then discussed at a meeting of the county’s Police and Crime Panel, which also rejected it on the chair’s casting vote after the 14 panel members present voted seven for and seven against the proposal.
However, there were insufficient votes to veto the proposal and the panel accepted the commissioner’s precept, the policing element of council tax, will come into effect.
The precept of an average Band D council tax bill will now be set at £323.57, an increase of £13 a year, or £1.08 a month.
Ms Townsend, who must stand for re-election in May, said it means the new Chief Constable Tim De Meyer’s plan for policing in Surrey will be fully supported, allowing officers to focus on what they do best and maintain a visible presence that tackles pockets of lawlessness in the county.
In his blueprint for the Force – which he outlined to residents during a recent series of community events across Surrey – the Chief Constable said his officers will pursue the most prolific offenders in communities, crack down on anti-social behaviour and drive out drug dealers and shoplifting gangs.
He also wants to substantially increase the number of crimes detected and offenders put before the courts and ensure that calls for help from the public are answered more quickly.
“Surrey residents have told us loud and clear that they want their police to be there when they need them, to answer their calls for help as quickly as possible and to tackle those crimes which blight their everyday lives in our communities,” Ms Townsend said.
“This decision will mean our policing teams can receive the right support to deliver the Chief Constable’s plan and make our communities even safer for our residents.”