WARWICKSHIRE Police have unveiled plans to increase officer numbers – but council tax payers would have to bear the costs.
The proposals were revealed as part of the police draft budget for 2019-20 financial year and aim to help the force provide a better service in the face of rising demand.
They would see 85 new police officer posts created, five new PCSO positions and ten additional police staff investigators.
The extra money would also be used to modernise the police IT systems.
However the investment will come at a cost, with the police share of the annual council tax precept potentially rising by £2 per month for a Band D property – £24 for the year.
Options for increases of £1.50 per month and £1 per month at Band D are also being consulted upon, but these would see fewer new officers posts created and no new PCSOs or police investigators appointed.
The public are currently being asked for their views on the plans through an online consultation.
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Warwickshire, Philip Seccombe, said: “When I go around the county talking to the public, people make it very clear to me that they want to see additional police officers out on patrol and working to protect our communities from crime and for crimes to be investigated quickly and effectively when they are reported.
“Similarly, when I talk to police officers in Warwickshire, I hear of the increased workloads that they are all having to carry in order to meet the current rising levels of demand.
“The government has provided some welcome additional funding for policing this year, but this alone will not deliver enough resources to be able to make the substantial increase in officer numbers that I believe is required, nor would it fully allow for the investments in IT, equipment and estates that are badly needed in order to improve the quality of service given the public.
“Doing nothing to change this situation is not an option that in my view is either sustainable or desirable, so this year I have outlined proposals to increase the portion of council tax by up to £2 a month, £1.50 and month or £1 a month on average, in order to provide the chief constable with the resources he needs.
“While these increases are based on an average Band D taxpayer, in reality, many people would see a smaller increase, with those Warwickshire residents living in council tax bands A to C paying proportionately less per month. However, I understand that any proposals to raise council tax cause concern, so I am very keen to get the public’s views on which of these options is the most preferable.
“Your opinions will help influence my final decision on next year’s budget and I hope to hear from the widest possible number of you through the consultation survey.”
Commenting on the plans, the leader of Stratford District Council, Cllr Tony Jefferson, said: “The PCC is currently consulting on budget plans for next year. The consultation gives three choices – £12, £18, £24.
“In the consultation each level of increase is linked to an increase in numbers of staff. As a member of the police and crime P=panel I can say that the consultation results are given substantial weighting when we are formally consulted on the precept.
“I recognise that a £24 increase is substantial, but all feedback I get is that the workload on the police is increasing. People have the opportunity to make their views known. I urge them to take it. They will be listened to and their comments taken seriously.”
To have your say on the police plans visit www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WarksPrecept19-20