Tax increase proposal for police will result in no extra officers

Photo Neil Cross. Clive Grunshaw
Photo Neil Cross. Clive Grunshaw
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Proposals to raise the police budget by raising council tax in Lancashire is not likely to create any new officer posts.

Lancashire Police needs to save £16m by 2020 - on top of £72m already saved - and any increase in council tax would only go towards plugging this gap. There will be no extra funding for Lancashire Police from the government, who have instead offered Police and Crime Commissioners more flexibility in increasing their council tax precept.

Photo Neil Cross'Police stock image

Photo Neil Cross'Police stock image

A consultation has now been launched by Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw asking ratepayers in the county whether they would agree to pay more to protect frontline police services.

An increase of 23p per week would raise over £5m for policing in Lancashire, which would protect officer and staff roles that would otherwise be lost and allow some investment, while a 40p a week increase would allow additional resources to be invested in frontline policing.

The increase last year was 6p per week.

Meanwhile Lancashire Police is looking to recruit 200 new officers in 2018/19, although this too would not mean any extra police on the beat, but would rather replace officers that have retired from or left the force.

This recruitment drive is not dependent on any council tax increase as it was agreed prior to the proposals.

The force said it was looking for people from a wide range of backgrounds with the right life experience and skills including compassion, integrity, technology, languages and problem solving.

Deputy Chief Constable Sunita Gamblin said: “This career presents opportunities to develop in core services such as response, local policing and investigation with pathways that lead into specialisms such as CID, firearms, roads policing, dog handler and much more.”

Clive Grunshaw said: “Since 2015 the government have assumed that Police and Crime Commissioners like myself must put up the council tax precept to minimise the impact of their cuts to funding.

“In their announcement before Christmas, they highlighted the need to invest in policing after years of cuts to local budgets, but are passing the buck on to local residents.”

The consultation can be found at www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=151396094056 and runs until January 18.

Mr Grunshaw added: “Every year one of my responsibilities is to set the council tax precept. This is the amount of money that householders pay towards policing in the county. With rising demands, increasing costs through inflation and growing online threats we cannot accept a further reduction in our police budget.

“Across the county residents tell me that they want to see better investment in policing.

“It might seem like a small amount but an extra 23p per week from the average household would raise over £5m for policing in Lancashire.

“This would protect officer and staff roles that would otherwise be lost and allow us to invest in a better policing service, fit for the future.”

Residents can have their say on the proposals by completing an online survey and the Commissioner’s office will be conducting a telephone survey with a sample of residents from every part of Lancashire in the coming weeks.

In the consultation the public will be asked if they want to keep the increase to 6p per week, which would help safeguard some police jobs, or increasing it by around 23p per week or a 40p per week increase, which would allow additional resources to be invested in frontline policing.

Anyone who wants to receive a paper copy of the survey can telephone 01772 533 587 and one will be posted out.

Following Lancashire Constabulary’s recruitment process, training will commence throughout 2018 and 2019 and the new officers will be posted right across Lancashire.