The Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel has unanimously approved Matthew Scott’s plan to raise council tax, enabling Kent Police to recruit more police officers and PCSOs.
One of Mr Scott’s main duties as Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner is to set the amount that Kent Police receives from council tax, known as the ‘policing precept’. Following a meeting in Maidstone on February 2, an average household bill for 2017/18 has been set at £157.15; representing an increase of £5 (3.3%).
Explaining the reasons for his decision, Mr Scott told the Panel: 'Bearing in mind that Kent Police lost around £2million from Government this year to pay for national projects there is a funding gap that we will have to plug.
'What I was keen to do was to make sure that we used the increase in the precept to deliver some of the things that residents want to see in the county, and of course number one on that list is usually boots on the ground.
'An increase of £5 will help us to pay for an increase in police officers from 3,180 to 3,260. We will be using this money to fund the ongoing training, development and recruitment of those new police officers.
'In addition it will pay for an increase in the number of PCSOs. The number was around 280 when I started and that will be going up to just over 300, and that will be backed up by an increase in PCSOs’ powers later this year.'
The PCC also spoke about the new Policing Model which the Chief Constable will implement later this year, which will reduce demand on local policing teams and place more emphasis on protecting vulnerable people.
'We want to see more police officers in local teams out and about more often, providing a visible presence in our streets and dealing with some of those things that perhaps people feel Kent Police hasn't been dealing with in the past,' the PCC said.
'That comes at quite a substantial cost so this funding will help to support that.’
Mr Scott also advised Panel members that, even with the increase, Kent’s precept would remain among the lowest in England and Wales.
Police and Crime Panel chairman Mike Hill commented: 'That’s a very clear explanation of your budget. We unanimously support the precept proposal.'
Mr Scott first announced his intention to raise council tax in January, along with plans to release £5.1million of reserves. Any money not spent at the end of 2017/18 will go back into replenishing the reserves.
The public and partners were invited to provide feedback on his proposal, with the majority responding in favour.
Mr Scott added: 'Kent Police will remain one of the bottom 10 precepting authorities in the country and I will make sure that, in my role as Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, this money is spent effectively and efficiently.'