Column: Prepared to pay extra

I have been consulting people about the possibility of increasing the council tax precept that pays for policing.

Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 10:46 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:51 am
Dr Alan Billings

If we are to stave off even bigger cuts to police services, we need to raise a little more money locally – about 6p per week for a Band A property.

So we have been doing a number of things to gauge what you, the public, think.

We have done some on-line opinion sampling.

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In addition, members of my staff have been to various public events and places to speak to people. I have been to community groups and town and parish councils.

I thought there might be some real resistance this year in these financially difficult times.

In fact, 90 per cent of people across South Yorkshire are prepared to pay a little extra for policing the county in the coming year because they want to feel safe as they go about their lives.

However, people want neighbourhood policing restored as soon as possible. Many people realised that the way the service had been reorganised last year to save money had led to a reduction in dedicated officers and Police Community Support Officers in their neighbourhoods.

People want as much visible policing as possible.

I have therefore asked the Chief Constable to make this his top priority.

It will not be easy because savings will still have to be made. But the police recognise that the only way they can keep on top of crime and anti-social behaviour is by building intelligence through close links with neighbourhoods.

There is also anxiety that we might lose the ability to bring back criminals who flee to Europe after we leave the European Union.

At the moment we can do this through the European Arrest Warrant.

There is also the potential loss of intelligence on criminal gangs or suspect vehicles operating across borders if our relationship with Europol or the Schengen Information System is disturbed.

Police and Crime Commissioners must ensure that the Government does not lose sight of these concerns as it begins the complex work of exiting.