Council tax rise could fund police cyber crime specialists

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A RISE in Sussex Police’s share of council tax could go towards protecting vulnerable children and adults from abuse and fighting cyber crime.

Police and crime commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne has launched a consultation, asking residents if they would be happy to pay more to fund investment in two priority areas.

The force hopes to recruit specialist staff and invest in new technology to provide better protection for communities.

Mrs Bourne said: “As your PCC in Sussex, I have to consider the chief constable’s operational policing plan and determine whether the amount you pay for policing locally should stay the same or rise to allow investment in key areas.”

Crimes involving child sexual exploitation have risen 80 per cent, according to the PCC’s office, while reporting of sexual offences is up 40 per cent. New teams have already been set up to investigate the most serious crimes committed against vulnerable children and adults, making up 42 per cent of all CID investigations in Sussex.

But police want more specialist investigators to cope with the surge in cases.

Technology to provide police investigators with the ability to swiftly and safely examine significant amounts of data held on mobile digital devices and computers of suspects and victims is also required.

The consultation comes as the commissioner continues lobbying the Government for a fairer funding deal.

Although Sussex is the tenth-largest force in England and Wales, it currently receives the 14th-lowest Government grant per head of population and has the fourth-lowest precept.

The amount received is governed by a formula, which is currently under review.

Mrs Bourne said: “As the law stands, any PCC wanting to increase the precept by more than 1.99% would need to hold a public referendum – which would be a costly exercise in itself. I am therefore, pushing on two fronts – for the Government to reconsider how the new grant formula is calculated and applied, and for a degree of flexibility on the precept cap.”

To take part in the consultation, visit www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/public-consultations by January 8. The Police and Crime Panel will review any decision on Friday, January 22.