Gloucestershire PCC Martin Surl considers upping council tax to target cyber crime

Gazette Series: Gloucestershire PCC Martin Surl targets cyber crime (2860943) Gloucestershire PCC Martin Surl targets cyber crime (2860943)

THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire is considering whether to raise council tax to police the internet more effectively.

PCC Martin Surl is asking the county’s residents if they want the constabulary to make protecting young people from cyber-bullying and tackling online fraudsters among other internet-based crimes a priority in the county.

The response will have a crucial bearing on how Gloucestershire Police operates in the future as it is an area in which the constabulary currently has relatively little expertise in the field.

“The internet is a wonderful tool but it also has a dark side and has spawned a whole new field of criminality. Perhaps worst of all, it’s made people vulnerable in their own homes”, he said.

“I have no doubt this is a critical area of concern for many people but it is a specialist field. If we are to increase our ability to tackle it, the constabulary will likely need new equipment, specialist staff and training and that will cost money we don’t have at the moment.

“Whatever I decide, I am not going to reduce the number of PCSOs or front line officers and if I do put up the council tax, it will be the last time before the next election,” he added.

Gloucestershire Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said: “ If we don’t start investing in that area of investigation now, we will be leaving members of the public and businesses in Gloucestershire exposed because it is a specific field and one in which we are lacking in expertise."

Policing is funded in two ways, through a grant from the Government and local council taxes.

If Mr Surl decides to add better policing of the web to his Police and Crime Plan, the likelihood is it will mean a two per cent increase in homeowners council tax, meaning an extra £4.05 a year.

Currently the average band D householder pays around £203.68 a year towards the Gloucestershire Constabulary out of their council tax.

A consultation is being carried out by an independent market research and analysis company in conjunction with the police. Members of the public can e-mail their comments to research.team@gloucestershire.pnn.police.uk

The deadline for comments is Wednesday, December 18.

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