MORE officers and PCSOs are promised by Warwickshire Police – which will raise its share of Council Tax by an average £14 a year to help pay for them.
The force has proposed to raise the Police Precept of Council Tax by 5.3 per cent – amounting to £14 a year for an average band D property.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe says he not only wants to increase police visibility on the county’s streets, but to increase funding to deliver improvements to how the public contact the police – through better customer service, reduced waiting times on 101 and better access for face-to-face contact within communities.
The budget proposals – which will see total net funding for policing in the county increase to just over £125million – were supported by the Warwickshire Police and Crime Panel on Monday (February 6).
Among the proposals are ten extra officers in local policing to improve police visibility, 15 additional call handlers in the main control room to reduce wait times, and the provision of resolution centres where members of the public can speak face-to-face with officers and staff, with longer opening times over seven days each week at Leamington, Rugby, Stratford and Nuneaton.
Mr Seccombe said he supported the rise in the Police Precept at a time when bill payers’ budgets were already stretched.
He said: “I know that the public want to see continued improvement in the accessibility, visibility and quality of policing they receive. These are the key topics that people raise with me when I meet them and this is supported by the results of the consultation that I undertook to support the budget process. This also showed that the majority of people are prepared to pay extra for this, along as they see tangible benefits from it.
“I fully accept that many households are facing pressures on their own budgets at the moment and that any increases in the precept may be difficult. At the same time, policing is experiencing rising demand from a growing population and is also not immune to rising costs.
“While we have seen a welcome increase in central Government funding this year, it alone will not provide the funding we need to protect our services. That’s why I’ve sought to bring forward efficiency savings worth around £1million, which have been achieved without putting jobs at risk and are a result of the better working practices our previous investments in state-of-the-art IT systems have enabled.
“These alone will not provide the full funding we need, however. Even to stand still, budgets must increase or we face the real prospect of having to reduce the service to the public, rather than improve it. I don’t think that is acceptable and it therefore leaves little alternative but to increase the Police Precept.”