Berkshire

Tax rise approved to recruit more police in Thames Valley

Anthony Stansfeld
Image caption Conservative Mr Stansfeld said more than £100 million had been cut from the budget in the past eight years

A council tax rise will help a police force to "stop cutting back" and recruit more officers, its police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said.

Anthony Stansfeld, PCC for Thames Valley Police, approved a proposal to raise the police precept by 13.2% at the force's budget meeting on Tuesday.

The increase will generate about £24 million, with £8.5m being spent on "priority policing areas".

It means band D householders will pay £24 more a year towards police.

Conservative Mr Stansfeld said more than £100 million had been cut from the force's budget in the past eight years which had led to "significant concern" about possible "unacceptable reductions in resources".

A survey of residents showed nearly 70% agreed with an increase to fund policing.

But despite investment in some areas, the force is required to make savings of £15.1m over the next four financial years.

'Dumping the cost'

Mr Stansfeld said it was "ironic" he was being "made" to put up council tax by 13.2% when he had previously been given a "rollicking" for putting it up 2% in previous years.

He said the government needed to have a "rethink" over funding, adding it was "dumping the cost" of "stabilising policing" on householders.

Central government granted powers for PCCs to increase council tax in December.

Chief Constable Francis Habgood said the rise, a record high for the police, would generate cash to be spent on more officers and staff to "respond to increased demand".

"Without this additional investment we would have faced further cuts and it would have seriously damaged our ability to provide the policing services that we want to and our communities expect," he added.

Thames Valley's Police and Crime Panel is set to give final approval to the plans on 1 February.

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