The one thing we can be sure of with our PCC Katy Bourne is that there will always be another survey! I acknowledge that the PCCs should consult with the public but we are in grave danger of suffering from survey fatigue. She has been in office since November 2012 so surely she knows by now what the priorities for policing should be in the eyes of the residents of Sussex.
However, having said this, I urge all of the Sussex public not to ignore this latest one. Why? Because this is the one where each year she asks us, the public, whether we would be prepared to pay more through our council tax for policing in our county. The importance of this should not be overlooked. This is because, however small the sample is taking part in the survey, if the vote is in favour of a rise however small the majority, she will use this to persuade the Sussex Police and Crime Panel to once again increase the council tax precept for policing.
Now you may be quite happy with this. However, if like me you are not, then you need to ensure that she knows your feelings. You may well be asking the question as to why I as a retired senior officer do not support such a rise. There are a number of reasons but I will focus on just two. Firstly, the amount of money supplied by central Government for policing has substantially decreased. This money comes from general taxation. However, they are more than happy for local authorities to increase council tax to pay for policing because it relieves them of the financial burden. They will also say that this shows that the public are happy to pay for additional policing and this is no doubt why they removed the cap on council tax increases. This of course applies to other public services in addition to policing.
However, one of my main concerns with giving Mrs. Bourne more money is that this will enable her to further support a number of her pet projects. The Government withold a certain amount of the police budget in order to allow PCCs to apply for funding to support so called crime reduction schemes as well as others supporting the rehabilitation of offenders as well as victims and witnesses. However, in the case of Sussex, Mrs. Bourne has publicised her various successes in achieving shares of this funding but has then chosen to use this money to fund various schemes which do not contribute anything whatsoever to support front line policing or indeed the priorities as determined by the public of Sussex in her surveys!
Most of that which she supports, I consider to be nothing more than talking shops and gimmicks. When I have regularly posed questions of her regarding outcomes from these various schemes, all I have received are platitudes and waffle by way of a response.
Therefore, I if you feel as strongly as I do, I urge you, the public of Sussex, to complete her survey and let her know your views and feelings. I include the link here: SPCC – Precept survey 2021/22 (sussex-pcc.gov.uk)
Finally, please also remember that May 2021 sees the latest elections for PCCs which were postponed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting turnout in the past regarding these elections has been very low. I hope that as many of the general public as possible will vote this time around. Please don’t use your vote in line with party politics. Politics has no part in policing in my view. Vote for an
individual who shows that they truly understand policing and who is prepared to bring about a style of policing that we, the public of Sussex, deserve!
Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Sussex Police