Essex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has released a statement following today’s police funding settlement.
He wrote: “I welcome the police grant settlement announced by the Government today. It is good news for Essex and for our police force. Overall funding for policing across our county has now stabilised and we can make plans for the future with more confidence and clarity.
“Early analysis of the figures for 2016-17 suggests that there will be a small decrease in central government funding of around £1 million.
“However, this can be offset by a small increase of a few pence a week in the amount we pay locally in the policing precept, the portion of council tax which funds our police service.
“In Essex, we currently pay the second lowest amount through council tax for policing of any county in the country. As an area with a historically low policing precept, the Government has stated that the Police and Crime Commissioner can increase the policing part of council tax by just under 10 pence a week, or £4.95 a year in 2016-17.
“In the light of today’s announcements, I will now consider the full financial position. Following further discussions with Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh, I will then take a proposal for the policing precept level to the Police and Crime Panel for Essex in late January, 2016.”
Essex Police will still need to make significant savings of around £12 million in 2016-17.
Mr Alston continued: “In addition, I believe that we in Essex do not get our fair share of the national policing budget, and I will continue to make the case for a review of the national funding formula which determines individual police force allocations.
“The Chief Constable and I have already announced that the number of police station front counters in Essex will reduce from 25 to 10 from April 2016. The force has also concluded consultation with staff and informed them of the outcomes of the process which will see 98 Customer Contact Administrator posts reduce to 36.
“The Essex Police front counters which will remain open to the public from 9am to 5pm are: Grays, Basildon, Southend, Harlow, Chelmsford, Braintree, Colchester and Clacton (all Monday to Sunday) Maldon, Saffron Walden (both Monday to Friday).
“Research during two months showed around 80 per cent of all visits to Essex Police stations were made to these front counters. Operational policing bases, without front counters, will be kept in: Loughton, Brentwood, Canvey Island, Great Dunmow, Rayleigh and Harwich.
“I am conscious that our PCSO colleagues go into Christmas facing an uncertain future. Essex Police entered into formal consultation in October 2015 on proposals to reduce the numbers of PCSO posts from 250 to 60 by April 2016. The Chief Constable has deferred the decision around these proposals until January 2016 to allow for careful consideration and analysis of all relevant information.”