It’s not long now before we all receive notification of how much we’ll be paying for police, fire and other local services through the coming year’s council tax bill.
I think I can safely assume that it is an unwelcome sight for most of us. But I believe there is good news in there, as unlikely as it may sound.
For starters, the part you will pay for policing in the county is not going up.
If you read my article in the Gazette in January, you’ll remember that I had plans to freeze the policing element of the council tax bill.
These plans have now been finalised and the freeze is now official.
Since I was elected to represent you as your Police and Crime Commissioner I have not raised this tax at all.
This is excellent value for money for a good-performing police force that keeps crime low in Hertfordshire and keeps you and your family safe.
But just because I’ve frozen the precept, don’t think 2015 is all about police cuts in this county.
Some Commissioners around the country are currently faced with steep council tax hikes in order to pay for more police officers.
Here in Hertfordshire the situation is different.
Thanks to prudent financial planning in recent years, I can freeze the council tax bill again and yet still make sure there is enough in the kitty so we can invest in the Constabulary to make it better still.
Over the coming year we should be able to invest in 150 to 170 new police officers, to strengthen the Force in new areas as well as replace leaving or retiring officers.
We plan to spend more than £600,000 establishing a new Safeguarding Command within the Constabulary, which will focus on protecting some of the most vulnerable people in society, including children and the victims of domestic abuse.
As a result nine new police officers and 11 police staff will be dedicated to tackling sickening crimes such as the sexual exploitation of children.
You’ll know the importance of investigating these kinds of offences thanks to news reports from Rochdale and Rotherham in recent years.
In response to the growing threats of human trafficking and “cybercrime”, more than £350,000 will be spent on the new Hertfordshire Cyber and Financial Investigation Unit.
Cyber-crime is the name given to a wide range of offences from online fraud to harassment through social media and 11 new police officers – as well as more police staff – will be deployed to take on this threat.
A further investment in the Force’s criminal justice department will help bring to justice more wanted criminals who live outside our borders but who have committed crimes within our county.
And here in Dacorum we will be putting three full-time police officers into HMP The Mount in Bovingdon.
The Mount has recently been designated as a “resettlement prison” which means it will be preparing prisoners for life on the outside.
The aim is to cut re-offending rates through better supervision of offenders when they are released, even if they have only had short custodial sentences.
The officers will be working with the recently-reconfigured probation services in the county and gathering intelligence about offenders before they leave prison.
In total, these add up to more than £1.1million-worth of investments in your police force – but they won’t cost you a penny more.
In total there will be more than £1.1million worth of investments in your police force – but they won’t cost you a penny more