The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Bedfordshire has warned that there could be policing cuts without a council tax rise.
The budget for Bedfordshire Police in 2021/22 is made up of 61 per cent government grant money and 39 per cent from the police precept portion of council tax for those living in Bedford Borough, Luton Borough or Central Bedfordshire.
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He added: “We have to decide if we stand still, move forward or make cuts to policing in our county.”
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Bedfordshire Police already receives 20 per cent less money per person to run its services than the national average and is one of the “lowest funded forces in the country” according to the PCC.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services figures show that Bedfordshire Police costs 45p per person per day to run compared to the national average of 56p.
The Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner is holding a survey to see if Bedfordshire residents are willing to accept a tax rise. You can fill it in here.
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The government has given PCCs the option to raise the precept by up to £10 (around 4 per cent) for an average (band D) property – a rise of just under 3p per day.
The current precept for 2021/22 is £227 per year after a seven per cent rise from 2020/21 from £212 a year.
Under the proposals the new rate will be £237 per year in 2022/23 for an average property, which will have been a nearly 12 per cent rise in just two years.
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This potential increase will come as people are already expecting other council tax portions to rise.
High inflation, energy price rises and the 1.5 per cent National Insurance rise will also be squeezing people’s finances this year too.
If this pattern of above inflation rises increases continues then by 2025/26, the Bedfordshire police precept could be up to £280 per year for a band D property, a rise of 32.2 per cent since 2020/21.
The Office for the Police & Crime Commissioner said that the £10 rise would allow the Chief Constable to:
- Recruit an extra 72 police officers so that we can take more criminals off the streets
- Improve the way 999 and 101 calls are answered, which the PCC has been told takes too long
- Continue to prioritise drug related serious organised crime to dismantle county lines
- Increase rural crime capability to protect villages and farms from criminals who target rural communities
- Invest in the Professional Standards Department so that police can continue to root out and deal swiftly with any corrupt behaviour within the force
- Increase victim engagement officers to support victims of rape, serious sexual offences and domestic abuse
- Invest in the sustainability agenda including the use of low and zero emission vehicles, and alternative forms of energy
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PCC Festus Akinbusoye said: “We are facing rising costs across the public sector because of inflation.
“This means that next year an increase in the precept will be needed just for Bedfordshire Police to maintain its current position and meet the costs of pay and price increases.
“So we have to decide if we stand still, move forward or make cuts to policing in our county. With higher costs for some everyday items and the impact of the pandemic affecting everyone, I know that any increase next year for some people will be hard.
“But I also know, because you have told me, that you want to see more officers in our communities and our rural areas, taking more criminals off the streets and protecting our towns and villages. To do this, as well as maintaining other services, we will need to increase the precept.
“The Government has said that PCCs can raise the precept by up to £10 a year for an average (band D) home. That’s a rise of just under three pence per day. We remain one of the lowest funded forces in the country.”
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