Wed, 02 Jan 2019
HOUSEHOLDS across West Berkshire could pay an extra £24 a year in council tax to cover a proposed increase in the cost of policing.
The Government announced an additional £300m in police funding for 2019.
However, many police and crime commissioners (Pcc) across the country claim the amount is not enough.
As a result, ministers have given commissioners – who represent the public – the option of increasing the council tax precept.
In the latest announcement, which reflects how the burden of paying for policing is shifting from national government to local taxation, the average band D council tax bill in West Berkshire could rise by an extra £24 a year.
Last week, Anthony Stansfeld, the Pcc for the Thames Valley, who has lobbied the Government for an increase in local police funding, welcomed the move, but warned a significant proportion of the additional funding could fall on the taxpayer.
Mr Stansfeld said: “It must be recognised that more than half of this funding [£509m] is expected to come from local taxpayers by increasing the police portion of the council tax.
“Demand on police forces has risen significantly in the last year as a result of changing crime.”
Government funding to police forces has been cut by almost a third since 2010, leading the number of officers to fall nationally by 21,000 against complex modern crimes.
Mr Stansfeld added Thames Valley Police (TVP) has experienced a “major increase” in the reporting of high harm and previously-hidden crimes, such as child sexual abuse and modern slavery.
The challenge from serious and organised crime networks is also growing, he said, as well as large amounts of non-crime business, especially in relation to mental health and there has been a spike in serious violence and knife crime.
Mr Stansfeld will hold a public consultation on the proposed council tax increase over the festive period.
Households in West Berkshire that fall under Band D currently pay anything between £1,708.15 and £1,823.14 a year in council tax.
Funding for frontline police officers, improved call-handling – such as responding to 101 calls – and investigative capability are areas which would be prioritised, the Pcc confirmed.
Mr Stansfeld continued: “This increase will enable me to protect many of the vital functions that may otherwise have been reduced and ensure that Thames Valley Police has more resources to tackle crime and keep the public safe.
“This additional funding will allow us to avoid what would otherwise have been unacceptable reductions in resources and to invest in ensuring Thames Valley Police continue to protect our communities.”
Last month, the Treasury announced plans to increase pension payments that police forces make in a bid to raise an extra £165m a year.
For TVP, the proposed changes to the police pension scheme – which have been fiercely criticised by Pccs across the country – could end up costing £14m a year.