THE Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria is proposing to raise council tax, in order to keep bobbies on the beat.
Vera Baird says that budget cuts to the force of £3.8million next year, with a projected funding gap of £29m over the next three years, make it difficult to maintain “vital services” across the region.
She has tabled a 3.5per cent council tax precept increase which was due to go to the Police and Crime Panel meeting yesterday (Wednesday, February 6). This would cost Council Tax Band D residents £2.93 per year.
Ms Baird said: “It is regrettable to put forward any increase at difficult economic times like this. However, the Government has slashed Northumbria Police funding by 20per cent over four years – a loss of over £39 Million – and we cannot allow any further reduction in the force’s capacity to fight crime and protect its residents.
“As part of my statutory duty to carry out a public consultation before creating the Police & Crime Plan for Northumbria, I found that 75 per cent of local people said that they would be prepared to pay as much as 10p per week more to protect the police service.
“Even with the increase I propose, the amount local residents pay towards their police force will continue to be the lowest of any area in England & Wales.”
The precept would provide an extra £1.04 million for policing in the next financial year. Another £9.4million will have to come from the force’s reserves.
The Commissioner added: “Many tough decisions will have to be taken now. But the demand to tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour, drink-related crime and violent offenders, as well as protecting vulnerable people from domestic abuse, needs resources. To pretend otherwise would be wrong.”
Northumbria Police Chief Constable Sue Sim said: “I am absolutely committed to continuing to deliver the services the public tell us they need and want. This increase in the precept will contribute to enabling us to carry on doing this and to continue to improve. We must ensure people living in Northumbria force area continue to receive the excellent policing service they are used to and deserve.”