‘Government move will mean further police budget cuts’

L12-793   21/6/12'Olly Martins, Police commissioner candidate'wk 26 SN JX
L12-793 21/6/12'Olly Martins, Police commissioner candidate'wk 26 SN JX

Beds Police could face further budget cuts because of a mooted move by the Home Secretary, it was claimed this week.

Olly Martins, Labour candidate for the role of Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner which will be elected next month, made his claim after Home Secretary Theresa May indicated that the new commissioner’s ability to raise the precept on the council tax will be capped.

Mrs May suggested the precept, which is the amount raised through the council tax to fund the police, will only be allowed to rise by a maximum of two per cent. As this is lower than the rate of inflation, Mr Martins claims that this would still mean the police have less to spend in real terms.

Mr Martins said: “We are already losing a total of 185 police officers, 78 PCSOs and 30 patrol cars as a result of the Tory-led government’s cuts.

“Now, for all their talk of localism and giving people a say by electing police commissioners, they are restricting the new commissioner’s ability to respond to local needs and priorities.”

Currently police forces across the country are overseen by police authorities, made up of a mixture of councillors and government-appointed members.

They will be replaced by commissioners, whose role will include appointing chief constables and setting out five-year police and crime plans.

But they will only be able to raise the cap on spending will be through local referendums, which Mr Martin claims in a “non-starter”.

He said: “There is already concern about how many voters will turn out on November 15 so the idea of holding a further vote is a non-starter.

“The cost of holding a referendum is also prohibitive so in reality the government are capping what the commissioner can raise and inflicting another cut on our police budget.

“Bedfordshire raises a smaller proportion of its budget through the council tax than most other constabularies and now it is clear that the new commissioner will be unable to change this even if there was public support for doing so. This government is clearly intent on dismantling our public services, including the police.”