Following a three week consultation, the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner has received overwhelming support from residents to raise the policing element of the council tax to provide extra funding to police the county.
The commissioner asked whether residents would be prepared to pay an extra £3.74 per year (based on a band D household) to enable investment in three key areas. These were contact with the police such as 101, emerging threats such as cybercrime and protecting vulnerable people such as tackling domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation.
Over 4,000 residents shared their views, a response rate which is thought to be the highest in the country, with four out of five people voting in favour of a rise of 1.99%, which would generate an extra £1,031,374 in revenue.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said; “On average, 82% of residents were happy to pay a few more pounds per year to support their local force. The Government has cut Dorset Police by £18m over the last four years in real terms and whilst efficiencies have been made, it is difficult to effectively tackle emerging issues with shrinking resources and ever growing demand.”
Last year the Police and Crime Commissioner accepted a freeze grant from government, providing an extra £574,000 which meant that the council tax could be frozen, placing no further financial pressures on Dorset tax payers.
He continues; “The Chief Constable has formally requested that I raise the precept to allow the Force to meet the new challenges facing policing. Significantly, these challenges mirror what the public have told me they want to see delivered. Policing requires constant investment to allow officers to keep up with ever chancing techniques being adopted by criminals. However, it is also important we balance the needs of the police service with the financial demands on families in Dorset.”
The PCC will be taking his proposal to raise the precept to the Police and Crime Panel, a group of 15 councillors and two independent members who ensure the commissioner is making the right decisions for the people of Dorset. Once he has listened to their views, he will make his final decision, with any rise being implemented from 1 April 2016.