Proposed 16 per cent rise in Beds Police’s council tax precept

PCC Olly Martins

PCC Olly Martins

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A consultation is set to take place over a proposed 15.85 per cent increase in Beds Police’s slice of the council tax bill.

An increase of this scale would require a referendum to secure the agreement of the public, which would be held alongside the General Election on May 7. This would be the first referendum under the current legislation.

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins, said: “Currently, the amount of money we raise through the council tax is the third lowest in England and Wales. This increase would equate to as little as 32p a week for a council tax band A property and still only 48p a week extra for a band D property. But it will raise £4.5million a year, which will be invested in 100 additional police officers alongside extra resources to manage the most prolific offenders and safeguard vulnerable people.

“Many of the extra officers would be placed in the local policing teams, which currently consist only of PCSOs working alongside a sergeant. Such a move will mark the return to the original neighbourhood policing model introduced in 2005.

“People up and down the county tell me that they want to see more police in their local communities and this increase would secure 100 additional officers until at least 2021.

He added: “Historically the Bedfordshire Police budget has suffered from drastic underfunding from both the Government grant, which accounts for 71 per cent of our funding, and the amount raised through the policing precept, which delivers the other 29 per cent. A 15.85 per cent precept rise addresses one side of the equation but does not negate the need for the other side to be addressed. I am committed to continuing the fight to see Bedfordshire receiving a fairer share of the national police funding cake – and one which reflects our needs rather than just population.”

Chief Constable Colette Paul has advised that in her professional opinion Bedfordshire Police needs 300 more police officers than it currently has.

This is based on analysis showing that there are 38 crimes recorded annually in Bedfordshire for each police officer, against a national average of 29 crimes per officer.

Mr Martins added: “Even though this suggests the thin blue line is painfully stretched, Bedfordshire Police officers still have the 11th best performance for detecting crime at the same time as being one of the lowest cost forces per head of population.

“I appreciate that many people have suffered financially over the past few years and understand that they may not welcome an increase in the council tax, however modest when considered on a weekly or monthly basis.

“But on the other hand, everywhere I go people tell me that they think we should have more police officers and the evidence from the crime per officer figures shows that in Bedfordshire they are right.”

Beds Police’s current medium term financial plans show that it expects to cope with anticipated government police funding cuts until 2018.

However, police funding reductions are likely to continue beyond 2018/19.

A survey will soon be launched at www.bedspcc.org.