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Kent's police budget to rise by more than 3%

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Plans by Kent crime commissioner to increase the police council tax by an inflation-busting 3.3% have been approved.

The increase, which is equivalent to an extra £5 a year on average bills, has been partly attributed to the heightened risk of terrorism in the county following a series of attacks on mainland Europe.

Members of the Kent and Medway crime panel voted to back the commissioner’s spending plans for 2017-18 at a meeting today.

Stock photo.
Stock photo.

The extra money being raised will help recruit 24 additional firearms officers and maintain the number of PCSOs who patrol in towns and villages.

Mr Scott said he believed the budget was fair and reasonable and that despite the increase Kent Police remained one of the lowest charging forces in the country.

The number of police officers would increase from 3,180 to 3,260 while the number of PCSOs would increase from 280 to more than 300.

But he said the government should acknowledge Kent’s special needs. It turned down a request to pay for the force’s additional costs for dealing with Operation Stack.

“I will continue to fight for fairer funding for the police; some of the issues are national ones, like Operation Stack, and we have a large strategic road network and we have challenges that need to be reflected in the government’s funding formula,” said Mr Scott.

Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott
Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott

He added that the government's planned investment in a huge lorry park to deal with Op Stack was effectively its contribution to the costs of dealing with it.

On the question of whether the government should provide the funding for security against terrorism, he said: “Yes, and in part they do.

"But we have to be ready, we have to be prepared - it is a requirement on the chief constable to be ready and in part this funding will do that.”

The budget was agreed by the crime panel although there was some concern at the plan to use £5m from reserves - so-called rainy day money - to cover additional costs this year.

Although the government spared police forces from spending cuts this year, Kent Police has had to cut £62m from its budget since 2012 and has lost 1,500 jobs over the period.

This year, it has had to trim spending by a further £8m.

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