Commissioner to explain tax plans

PCC Olly Martins
PCC Olly Martins

The police and crime commissioner has been asked to show how his plans to increase council tax to pay for 100 new officers will improve Bedfordshire Police’s performance.

A proposal to raise the police precept by 15.8 per cent by commissioner Olly Martins was considered by the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel, which oversees the comissioner’s work.

During a budget meeting last week, Mr Martins told the panel his proposal will restore Neighbourhood Police Officers and recruit others to tackle cyber crime and child sexual abuse.

It will also put the force on a firmer financial footing.

The panel responded by asking Mr Martins to show the public why they should support the proposals and how the extra officers will improve the force’s performance.

Mr Martins said he will give his reply to the panel next week but in the meantime has been polling the public to guage support for the plan.

He said: “I have spoken to about 1,300 people at supermarkets across the county during the past four weeks.

“Forty-five per cent of people said yes to the increase before they knew it will amount to about 48p a week, and what I plan to do with it.

“When they have that information, it rises to 85 per cent in support of the increase.”

However, a YouGov poll commissioned by Mr Martins revealed just 13 per cent of respondants said yes to the tax rise.

He said: “I want to get as much data as I can. I believe there is a ‘silent majority’, who are very supportive of the police but I will continue to take the temperature of the public up to the point where I inform the local authorities how much to raise the precept next Thursday.”

Any increase above 2 per cent will trigger a referendum, to be held on May 7.

Police and Crime Panel chair Councillor Fiona Chapman said: “I believe the vast majority of people want more visible policing and the panel believes the officers afforded by the extra money could go some way to achieving this.

“I therefore urge everyone to have their say by taking part.”

To register your view on the issue, go to www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk