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Commissioner call for council tax rise

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

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DERBYSHIRE’S Police and Crime Commissioner has proposed a rise in council tax funding to protect frontline policing.

Alan Charles’ plans for a 1.96 per cent increase in the amount of funding to go towards policing has been approved by the Police and Crime Panel as authorities set their precepts while setting budgets for the new financial year.

Without the increase, which will deliver £1 million to the force, Derbyshire Constabulary would face losing 20 officers over the coming years. A budget and a draft police and crime plan created by the commissioner have also been given the green light. Mr Charles said: “If we take the government grant this year, then in two years’ time, when it ceases we would have to lose at least a further 20 police officers. In addition, other government grants cease in 2015, which means that we have to find alternative sources to balance the books.”

The budget includes a Crime Prevention Fund of £0.25m for community groups.

Mr Charles added: “I am delighted that the Panel agrees with my proposals as I believe that they are the way forward in maintaining frontline police officer posts which are so crucial to protecting the public.

“If we didn’t increase the precept now it would lead to a further fall in police numbers. I hope that my budget will promote confidence in the public that we are using our resources both efficiently and effectively in tackling crime, and doing all we can to keep our neighbourhoods safe.

“The council tax increase – which amounts to less than a penny a day for taxpayers – will help to offset some of the challenges that Derbyshire Constabulary face as a result of Government cutbacks. In all, police funding in the county has lost out on some £30m over the past seven years, despite already being one of the lowest spending police forces in the country.”

Previously, Derbyshire has benefited from a grant worth £1.6m to freeze the council tax. But, explained Mr Charles, that is not perennial – it will stop in two years’ time. This year the Government offered a similar grant to freeze the precept, which was equivalent to a 1% increase in Council Tax, but this was limited to two years. Consequently, the freeze grant offer for 2013-14 does not provide financial stability for the long term, and would inevitably place further pressure on officer numbers in years to come.

The Commissioner’s budget reflects a saving of £100,000 from the costs of running his own office – money used instead to provide an extra four PCSOs.

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