The police precept is to rise 3.4 per cent from April, adding £5 a year on average to council tax bills in Brighton and Hove.
The rise was agreed at a meeting of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel, at County Hall, in Lewes, on Friday (20 January). The decision was made after the police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne had spelt out the case for the rise.
At times the meeting was heated, with one panel member asking if the increase would be an annual request. Mrs Bourne said yes.
The 3.4 per cent rise will add about £5 a year to the current £148 precept for a band D property. This is one of the lowest in the country, Mrs Bourne said.
She said that an increase in the precept was an investment not something to bridge a gap.
The role of PCSOs had changed over the past year and they now had more power, more equipment and better pay. Numbers had been reduced because of the changing face of crime. Sussex has 196 PCSOs, the meeting was told.
The commissioner said that 31 per cent of the budget went towards “local” policing. She added that Sussex has the 5th lowest council tax precept in England and Wales and the 4th lowest net expenditure.
Closer working with Surrey Police in areas such as roads, policing, firearms, dogs, etc, was helping the force to save money.
The commissioner assured the panel that firearms officers were utilised in other roles when they were not needed for their specific firearms duties. There are 52 armed officers in the county.
Sussex Police has the most comprehensive performance measures in the country, Mrs Bourne said.
And she said that there had been a comprehensive public consultation on the budget and the need to increase funding, with 80 per cent of those consulted agreeing to an increase.
The consultation took place between Friday 11 November and Sunday 8 January.
Councillor Michael Jones (Labour, Crawley) said that not enough time had been given to the panel to consider the proposals. He felt that the budget and report had been “rushed through”.
Several other councillors commented on the lack of information.
Brighton and Hove Labour councillor Emma Daniel said that the commissioner’s responses to questioning were inadequate.
Despite two votes aimed at blocking the rise, it went through.