By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
Kent residents will have to pay an extra 4.58% in tax towards policing from April.
The rise was agreed earlier today (February 2) by the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel at Kent County Council’s (KCC) headquarters in County Hall, Maidstone.
This means an additional £10-a-year will be paid by a Band D council tax payer.
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott said the rise was needed to cope with growing “financial challenges” faced by the county’s police force.
At today’s public meeting, he said: “I think this is something that is absolutely needed and has delivered value for money in the past.”
Kent councillors have called for a long-term solution to the way the force is funded.
The annual fee paid for police for an average Band D home will rise from £218 to £228, marking a 4.58% increase.
Last year, Kent households paid an extra 7.4% on the police portion of council tax bills, which excludes other bills such as the fire service, KCC or Medway.
Mr Scott said the additional funding is required to secure a further increase in police officer numbers, invest more in police stations, a new digital system that will allow dash cam uploads and to cover growing cost pressures caused by Covid.
Under Mr Scott’s watch, he said the number of Kent Police officers has risen by 788 since he was first elected in 2016. It came during the austerity years and police cuts in the early 2010s. The latest police tax uplift will help to secure 195 new recruits by March 2023. This would take the total number of Kent police officers to 4,165, the highest number ever.
Mr Scott hopes this will help to reduce offence levels, particularly relating to burglary and tackling County Lines drug gangs.
He said: “The financial challenges which policing has experienced has never really gone away over the last few years.”
He added: “I would not do this unless I thought it was absolutely necessary.”
Cuts will need to be made in other areas between April 2022 and April 2023 to balance the budget as Kent Police faces a black hole of around £6.8 million. This amounts to around 2% of its total spending budget of about £370 million.
Mr Scott said job losses would only be considered as a “last resort”.
Major concerns were raised by several district, borough and county councillors to the way the force is funded in future years, with more tax rises forecast.
Cllr Mike Hill (Con), chairman of the Kent Police and Crime Panel, said: “This is almost unsustainable in the long-term. We have more police in Kent than ever before, but at some point we must be able to stop expanding police officers to meet budget pressures.”
So, will this mean, we will get more Police, walking around, all the estate’s in Thanet, instead of sitting in there Cars.
Can we not do away with the pointless waste of money for Police and Crime Commissioners. We don’t have this extravagance in most other institutions.
We have not noticed and better or more policing on our streets with all these extra coppers so adding even more at great expense is not helping. We need better trained officers who notice illegal acts and crimes taking place then go and deal with them. The public see the poor quality of policing in Kent down to the Chief Officer Alan Pughsley with his soft approach. The County is no longer a patch on others. We deserve better for our funding.
Will we see extra officer’s on the streets, I doubt it, all the extra money will be swallowed up by administration
The police funding should be reduced. The police are not fit for purpose
Many criminals are not on foot, at one time police had “Noddy” Mopeds to get around on, remember them? They would get to reports of anti-social behaviour much quicker even than cars!
Who agreed this massive rise which is now an annual event? It certainly wasn’t the council tax payers.
Until Kent Police get off their seats and stop investigating non crime incidents and start prosecuting burglars and drug dealers the increases must be kept at zero.
More money?!? The way they’ve behaved in the last few years I would have thought a refund would be in order!
Police reform is what we need to throwing more money in the same dark hole.
I begrudge paying for a service that does not exist in my area