Police precept rise could raise £4 million for new recruits and improved 999 service

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kim McGuinness.Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kim McGuinness.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kim McGuinness.
North East taxpayers face higher bills for a £4m drive to keep more police officers on the street and improve 999 calls.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kim McGuinness has confirmed plans to increase the police precept portion of council tax bills by almost 7%.

The increase will amount to £10 a year for a Band D household and £6.67 for a Band A, which represents the majority of properties in the Northumbria area.

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The 6.95% uplift will raise just over £4m for the force and will be spent on recruiting 30 new call handlers for 999 and 101 and 50 civilian investigators, who will “support investigations and free up police officers”.

Ms McGuinness said that the cash would also pay for better equipment and wellbeing support for police officers, as well as providing extra resources to tackle cyber criminals and serious and organised crime.

She told the area’s police and crime panel that the tax hike in 2022/23 was unwelcome, but necessary.

A rise of £10 for a Band D household is the maximum allowed by the government without a referendum needing to be held.

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The Labour PCC said: “I absolutely do not think that the police and crime precept is the right way to raise funds. It is the government pushing the cost of policing onto the people who are most vulnerable and can afford it least.

“However, it is the mechanism available to us. Every time the government tells us how much they are going to fund policing they include the full precept amount in that figure, which puts pressure on us locally.”

She added that Northumbria Police had suffered through “a long time where we have not had enough”, having made £148m of cuts and lost more than 1,000 officers since 2010, and that a failure to increase funding could lead to more damaging budget savings.

Ms McGuinness said: “We know people support their police force, we know we have high levels of public confidence in our force.

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“It is incumbent on us to keep it that way and make sure the force does not suffer further cuts.”

The council tax precept raised almost £57m for Northumbria Police in 2021/22, 18% of the force’s funding, though it is set at the lowest level of any force in England and Wales.