GLOUCESTERSHIRE’S Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl is to ask the public if they are in favour of a new assault on crimes and anti-social behaviour carried out on the internet and social network sites.
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.
It will also have a bearing on next year’s policing budget and whether or not Mr Surl pushes for a rise in council tax.
“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 has made people vulnerable in their own homes,” said Mr Surl
“I think our police should be equipped to offer more protection to stop people being ripped-off by conmen.
“Equally as important, I would like to address the issue of young people being bullied through social networks and the misery that causes.
“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.
“I am not going to reduce the number of PCSOs or front line officers but if I do put up the council tax, it will be the last time before the next election.”
Chief Constable Suzette Davenport added: “The internet is in everybody’s home and everybody’s place of work.
“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.
The budget for 2013/14 was £102.7m.
Mr Surl’s police and crime plan is the blueprint for community safety in Gloucestershire over the next four years.
Its main aims are less crime, more peace and good order and is based on five priorities – accessibility and accountability, older but not overlooked, young people becoming adults, safe days and nights for all and safe and social driving. Adding cyber crime to the plan could be financed by a rise in council tax.
Residents will have the chance to find out more and give their views through the commissioner’s neighbourhood engagement vehicle which will be in King Street, in Stroud on Friday, December 13 before a public consultation is carried out by an independent market research.
For budget details see www.gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk