Nik Butler: Are we willing to pay more tax for a more modern police force?

JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001
JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001

Between Gatwick expansion debates, housing development increases, and future summer double dates for our councils county and district, you may not have noticed the invitation to complete a survey by the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.

It was easy to miss, especially if you were trying to click from a Facebook posting, but it asked a simple question of local residents as to how much they would be willing to pay, through their council tax, for the privilege of modern policing.

Whilst the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has the statutory obligation to set the precept I doubt many have an understanding of how this impacts their council tax bill or the cost of providing a police force. In reading the covering post on their website I found it interesting that in previous surveys the public had shown that there was a willingness to see an amount raised in taxes which was greater than the capped limit set by the government.

Those who answered were willing to pay more for a service for which policies and politics have capped.

Then again it is not like we have a free market for policing for Horsham district; but let us not give certain parties any more opportunities to charge for the obvious.

Granted the integrity of the online survey, and the quality of its respondents, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Those responding online are more likely to be those who consider investment and inflation to be a healthy part of ensuring a more robust community.

Though it raised a question as to how given the choice in taxing themselves the public would rather spread the costs of administration by way of council tax charge than face the prospect of less policing and community support.

Granted it seems unlikely that a modest increase in tax in the next four years will offset the ever increasing cost of delivering those services. Then again if we can put a few thousand more houses into the District we might just bump the income and put off further increases.

Meanwhile the explanation as to how the money will be spent in policing Sussex had me wondering just what one quarter of a million pounds invested into a joint cyber-crime operation can provide the public. What exactly is cyber-crime as a budget line for policing and how will our District benefit from such funding?