Police precept will rise after Osborne issues ultimatum

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
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The Police and Crime Panel for Northumbria has unanimously approved the proposed increase to the police element of council-tax bills.

The Chief Constable has confirmed that the rise – £5 per year – will enable him to retain 100 officers over the spending review period to 2020. It will cost taxpayers 10p per week for a band D property.

Following public consultation, which saw support for the rise, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, said: “Despite Chancellor Osborne saying that he was not cutting funding to police, the only way in which that is true is if every PCC in the country raises their precept by the maximum amount possible.

“The Government is telling the 10 police forces with the lowest police precept to increase it by the sum of £5 per band D house per year and Northumbria is one of those forces.

“The Chief Constable and I are determined to keep officers on the street and preserve high standards of policing, and as your Commissioner, I’m left with no choice but to raise the precept to ensure the police have the resources to cut crime and continue delivering excellent neighbourhood policing for the people of Northumbria.

“Northumbria has the lowest police precept in the country at £88.33.

“The National Audit Office agrees with me that we have suffered the worst cuts out of all 43 forces in England and Wales.”

Ms Baird added: “Since 2009, we have lost almost 900 police officers and hundreds of staff due to those Government cuts. We will still have to lose more because there are still cuts, albeit some of them are hidden and labelled ‘top-slicing’.

“The figure of £2.05million which will be raised by increasing the precept by 10p a week, £5 a year, will not replace those funding cuts, but our funding will be significantly less without it and the Chief Constable tells me that 100 more officers would have to go if I do not make this increase.

“This money will be invested to benefit the communities served by Northumbria Police, keeping 100 officers on the streets and helping to preserve high policing standards and the force’s national reputation for victim satisfaction.

“The Chancellor did not consult either me or the public before dictating this course of action, but we have asked the public for their views and I am pleased to say that most responses accepted the need to keep officers on the beat and expressed the view that 10p a week is a very small increase to pay for that security.”

Coun Gary Haley, chairman of the Northumbria Police and Crime Panel, said: “Local residents have made it very clear that they want to keep officers on the streets and the clear steer from government has been that the local residents should pick up the tab for their withdrawal of funding.

“At a time of swingeing cuts from the Government, which has been using an out-of-date funding formula, the Commissioner has been left with no choice but to raise the precept in order to protect police numbers and help keep our local communities safe.”