Look how they’re spending your money!
In the past week, the local Conservatives have revealed their latest budget for Surrey Police. Lisa Townsend, our Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, confirmed a 3.5% hike in the police’s share of Council Tax. This, given the cost-of-living crisis, demands scrutiny.
The budget which delivers crime prevention and funds running costs has risen by just 3.7% to a total of £3.19 million. According to some sources, this will mean that as many as 22 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) will need to be cut over the coming year. PCSOs are vital to tackling anti-social behaviour and offer a vital link to communities. This loss should be a major concern for residents across Surrey and it shows reveals Conservatives’ attitudes towards crime prevention. It is now clear the Conservatives are not focused on tackling crime and protecting communities.
It is likely that more savings will be needed in the near future to cope with budget pressures. From Stanwell to Guildford, we have heard how residents feel neglected and unprotected by our hard-pressed police force. Our police need more resources, and our PCC should be making this a priority. Local officers are so important, and we need to protect and support existing staff to make Surrey as safe as possible.
We need to make sure Surrey Police hits its target of recruiting 98 officers through the Operation Uplift programme to secure a vital £1.7 million in central government funding. Failure to do this will leave our already struggling police force even more depleted in numbers and budget.
The most damning aspect of the new budget is the change to Lisa Townsend’s own office allocation which increases by a ridiculous 30% to £1.45 million. Here, it is perfectly clear where priorities lie: not with staff but with ‘media communications’. This is not what the public voted for, or what they were promised. Lisa Townsend is more focused on expanding her office than supporting communities, supporting police officers and fighting crime.
Our residents deserve a Police and Crime Commissioner who is focused on tackling crime. This is Conservative policy in action: it says one thing but does another. Law and order are not secured by glossy social media messaging. Conservatives are failing Surrey on crime and residents deserve better. Labour believes in a responsive police force with a high level of contact with communities. We would shift priorities to deliver for the residents of Surrey.