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Freeze on council tax will cost 300 police jobs

Monday, 21st February 2011.

Suffolk Police Authority has today agreed to freeze the police part of council tax at last year’s levels, which will mean reducing its workforce by 300 over the next four years.

In recognition of the difficult financial climate facing Suffolk’s residents, the police authority agreed to avoid a rise in council tax, which will contribute to just over one quarter of the overall budget.

At today’s meeting, members also set a budget of £115.4 million for policing in the county in 2011/12.

The organisation is facing a cut in Government funding of approximately 14 per cent over the next four years, resulting in the need to achieve savings of around £13.5 million over this period, based on current estimates.

The authority says in Suffolk this challenge will be particularly acute as it is already the second lowest-cost police service in the country, with a relatively small budget, which relies more on Government funding than on the council taxes paid by householders.

Chairman of Suffolk Police Authority Colin Spence said: “Today’s meeting debated the policing budget extensively, and the decision over how much Suffolk’s residents will pay towards this, through their council tax, was a key part of our discussions.

“We are proud of the fact that the cost to police Suffolk is the second lowest in the country, and we will continue to work to keep this cost as low as possible for our householders, whilst ensuring a high level of service.

"We recognise that this will not be easy as we face significant reductions in Government funding over the next four years.

“Our challenge now is to ensure that our reduced resources are used in the most effective manner to ensure that our communities remain safe and that we have the correct staffing and skills to meet the demands placed upon us.

“Our priorities for the coming years were also agreed today through our three-year plan, so we will look to align our resources with the provision of services that are most essential in keeping our county safe.”

Chief Constable Simon Ash said: “The policing service is facing a period of unprecedented change as it adapts to work within a drastically reduced budget.

“In Suffolk, we are doing all we can to re-design the way in which we deliver our services to achieve these savings. Our priority is to continue to provide the high quality policing our communities expect, with a workforce that will be reduced by around 300 people over the next four years, and with significantly fewer resources.

“We will be doing all we can to protect frontline policing as these changes are made, and a key way in which we are looking to achieve this is by continued collaboration with Norfolk Constabulary.

“Latest figures have shown that more and more people in Suffolk have high levels of confidence in their police force and the service we provide.

"We want to ensure that these levels of confidence and satisfaction continue to increase and that Suffolk continues to be one of the safest counties in the country.”

The decision follows similar ones by Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council to set zero rises.

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