Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedfordshire PCC Olly Martins to ask public for more funds

Bedfordshire Police HQ Image copyright Google
Image caption Bedfordshire Police currently raises 29% of its funding through the council tax

A police and crime commissioner is to ask the public whether they would be prepared to pay nearly 16% more in council tax to fund more officers.

Bedfordshire PCC Olly Martins said a rise of 15.85% would raise an extra £4.5m per year for the force.

Increasing the police precept requires a referendum so a consultation would be held before it was put to the vote.

The police federation said it would be "very supportive" of any plan to increase the number of officers.

Mr Martins said the amount raised through the county's council tax, which accounts for 29% of its funding, was the third lowest in England and Wales.

Figures show there are 38 crimes recorded annually in Bedfordshire for each police officer, against a national average of 29 crimes per officer.

"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," said Mr Martins.

"And it really is the people's decision."

Image copyright Other
Image caption PCC Olly Martins said "the thin blue line is painfully stretched"

The increase would equate to 32p extra a week for a band A property and 48p for band D, some of which would be invested in 100 extra police officers, until at least 2021.

Mr Martins said because of the costs involved, he would not proceed with the referendum unless he was "reasonably confident of getting an affirmative result".

He has asked people to complete a survey soon to be launched on his website.

Bedfordshire Police Federation chair Jim Mallen said: "If it's with a view to increasing the number of police officers, it's something I would be very supportive of.

"It's laudable he is trying to increase numbers at a time when forces are having to lose them."

Any referendum would be held alongside May's general election.

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