Council tax demands for the forthcoming year 2021/22 have been landing on doormats throughout East Sussex this month. They show a general rise at or below 2% for the funding of each of four constituent elements – county council, borough or district council, adult social care and fire authority. But the increase in the fifth element, policing costs, is an inflation-busting 7.5%.

The demands were accompanied by a glossily illustrated leaflet entitled Smarter Policing, Safer Sussex issued by Katy Bourne, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). She explains that over the last year, despite the series of lockdowns and social restrictions, more police and community support officers (PCSOs) were recruited, a new Rural Crime Team was established to cover more isolated parts of the county, and a specially trained and equipped Tactical Enforcement Unit was launched to tackle “county lines” drug traffickers and other dangerous crime gangs. The extra funding this year will support not only further recruitment but also a “technology upgrade”, intended to streamline management of information and “maximise frontline and public-facing opportunities”.

The PCC office were unable, on request, to provide any figure or proportion of budget which has been expended in policing public marches, vigils and gatherings on the part of Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, Reclaim These Streets and other public/political movements, or in supervising and enforcing Covid restrictions. Nor could they say whether they were expecting this element of expenditure to stay broadly the same, increase or decrease in 2021/22. However, they pointed out that, where there are extraordinary public order policing requirements within Sussex such as were experienced in 2014 with sustained protests about fracking, they can look to national government for extra funding help. 

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