Police look to hike council tax by £24 a year to pay for extra 85 officers

PUBLISHED: 15:00 22 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:11 22 February 2019

Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archant

Devon and Cornwall Police plan to hike council tax by £24 a year, to pay for more 85 more police officers on the streets.

Police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez has however promised that she won’t be asking for a large hike next year.

The Police and Crime Panel have approved the proposals that would see a rise of £24 for the average Band D property.

The extra cash would bring the force strength from 2,990 to 3,100 by the end of 2021/22, the highest level since 2012. But, the number of PCSOs are set to be cut from 196 to 150. The rise will generate an additional £14.3m of income, with much of that increase going towards funding a deficit in the police pension fund and rising operational costs.

The Chief Constable has indicated that the uplift would allow him to create an additional beat officer for each of the 27 sectors in the force area, increase detectives by 30 to address serious offending and increase the number of officers in frontline response teams. Without it, he said the gap between the resources available and the demand on the service will widen further.

A poll, of more than 4,546 people, revealed 54 per supported investment if it was invested in front-line officers. But, the amount of people in support of the move was significantly lower than the 71 per cent who supported a similar proposal last year of. The panel heard only Band E tax payers were not supportive of the rise.

Ms Hernandez said: “We are fortunate to live in one of the safest parts of the country and I want to keep it that way.

“Devon and Cornwall Police are dealing with an increase in recorded crime of 10 per cent and calls for assistance from police officers is rising. In addition there are a range of new threats from which we are not immune.

“Excellent work takes place every day of the week in counter terrorism – for example, there are currently 39 cases in Devon and Cornwall where a potential threat has been identified and is being mitigated. With the increase in investment last year we were able to speed up force recruitment, introduce body worn video and invest in innovative blue light officers who are now working across Devon and Cornwall.

“I am recommending a further investment in our force but do not do that lightly, it’s clear to me that this year people from some of our communities are less supportive of this approach than they were a year ago and I am listening to those concerns.”

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