The Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, Kevin Hurley, says that following extensive consultation with local residents he has decided to propose a 1.99% increase in the police share of council tax for the coming year, rather than pursue a referendum for a 24% increase.
One of his six priorities as Police and Crime Commissioner is to give local people a greater say in how they are policed. From the beginning of his research into the idea of a referendum on a significant increase in the police share of council tax to mitigate against continued funding cuts and allow us to invest in better policing, he said that it would be the views of the public that would make the decision. It is their money and their police force. A referendum would cost over £1m to hold and he would not put that money on the line if he was not certain that a majority of residents would support the proposed increase.
Having surveyed and spoken to thousands of people over the last few months, it is clear that, whilst there is a consistent level of support from around a third of residents for paying a significantly bigger amount towards policing in their council tax, the majority view remains against that decision and instead in favour of the smaller increase of 1.99%. That has made his final decision on our budget proposals very simple. He says that he is grateful to everyone who has taken the time to have a say.
Money is the biggest issue facing Surrey Police. From his first day in office he has been lobbying the national government to either protect service levels by merging forces or if not, to provide more funding to where it is most needed. We receive the second lowest level of funding per head of population in the country and independent analysis shows that we are losing out on as much as £6m government funding every year that we need to keep the county safe.