Missing out on 300 police...

PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:38 25 May 2010

AVON and Somerset Constabulary is losing out on nearly 300 police officers a year because of a shortfall in Government funding, it has been claimed.

AVON and Somerset Constabulary is losing out on nearly 300 police officers a year because of a shortfall in Government funding, it has been claimed.

Force bosses are currently planning their budgets for next year, and say they face a tough juggling act to both protect services and ensure residents are not asked to pay too much.

The job is made more difficult, they say, because Avon and Somerset is underfunded to the tune of £12million a year compared to other police forces.

This works out as the equivalent of 272 police officers or 409 PCSOs who could be patrolling the streets - but aren't.

Dr Moira Hamlin, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Police Authority, believes the public will support a tax rise to ensure a good level of policing when budgets are finalised on February 10.

She points to a public new survey which shows 82 per cent of people want the police to maintain or improve services, even if it means paying more.

By contrast, only six per cent of respondents to the Ipsos Mori poll favoured a low tax rise and would support a cut in police services to achieve it.

Dr Hamlin said: "The police authority understands that we must set a budget that balances the needs of the community to maintain frontline policing while keeping costs to a minimum, as many households are feeling the pressures of the economic recession.

"The situation is made all the more difficult as we continue to lose £12million a year that we are assessed to need by the Government's own funding formula.

"We will carry on lobbying the government for adequate funds for policing and we have secured an additional one per cent more than the minimum increase.

"Even then, by the end of the Government's funding cycle, this financial year, the authority will have lost nearly £59million, which equates to 272 police constables or 409 PCSOs extra who we could have employed every single year.

"When we set the policing part of the council tax, we will take account of the views from residents and set a budget that ensures the constabulary can run as efficiently and effectively as possible without charging unaffordable increases in tax."

In 2009/10, Avon and Somerset Police Authority agreed a budget of almost £270million - meaning the average band D household paid less than 14p a week.

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