Two thirds reject tax increase for Surrey Police, survey suggests

BBC News Surrey

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kevin Hurley wants to increase council tax to prevent what he calls a “significant reduction” in services

Kevin HurleySurrey PCC Kevin Hurley said protecting police numbers would cost an extra £1 a week

Two thirds of Surrey households would not pay an extra £1 a week to avoid police cuts, a survey has suggested.

But a YouGov poll of 1,055 residents, which was commissioned by Mr Hurley, found only 32% would support the rise.

The Home Office said the setting of police precepts was a matter for individual PCCs.

“Crime is changing,” said Mr Hurley.

“There has been a massive increase in online fraud and online child exploitation.

“If you want to do something about it to protect your families for the future, to protect the ability of police to respond, then it’s a pound a week more for every household.”

Police forces in England and Wales have faced cuts of 20% in the last four years and Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, has said there will be a further 5% cuts next year.

Mr Hurley said the cuts would mean a loss of 550 personnel for Surrey Police over the next four years. It currently has 3,995 officers and staff.

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YouGov poll

Residents in a Band D property currently pay £211 per year, or £4 per week, towards the police.

Mr Hurley is considering increasing this by 24%, or £1 a week from April to avoid making the cuts, but to do so would trigger a local referendum.

The YouGov poll, carried out in November, found 73% of respondents would support a local referendum.

But only 32% said they would vote for the increase, while 47% said they would vote against.

Approximately 18% said they did not know and 4% said they would not vote.

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A Home Office spokesman said police reform was working and crime had fallen by more than a fifth under this government, according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales.

“There is no question that the police will still have the resources they need to do their important work,” he said.

“Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recently found that forces can successfully manage to balance their books while protecting the frontline and delivering reductions in crime.

“Surrey Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending, and on track to make the financial savings required to meet the spending review.”