Council tax bills to rise to help fund Avon and Somerset police?
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Police will be able to target violent crimes more, if people are happy to pay a bit more through their council tax bills, according to Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens.
Taxpayers are being asked if they would be willing to pay an extra £1 per month from next April.
After last year’s decision by the Government to allow PCCs to increase their tax demands by £1 per month, Ms Mountstevens hopes people will support her bid to continue the rise.
She said this year’s rise allowed her to employ 300 additional police officers and hopes to use this year’s budget to tackle violent crime, burglary and drug dealing.
She said: “If we are able to increase the policing part of the council tax by £1 a month next year and the Government grant for policing stays the same and there are no additional surprises we are committed to a new focus on burglary and drugs.
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“The Chief Constable and I have agreed that next year’s focus will concentrate on serious violence.
“The threat from serious and organised crime has changed rapidly, increasing in both volume and complexity and preying on the most vulnerable in society.
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“We must continue to dismantle the recruitment of vulnerable young people into ‘county lines’ drugs gangs. It’s clear this leads to an increase in knife crime and serious violence, including stabbings and gang-related disorder and it must be tackled and given the right resources.
As well as highlighting the benefits of the rise, Ms Mountstevens acknowledged her reluctance to ask residents to contribute more towards policing the area.
She said: “I absolutely recognise that any increase in household bills will be felt by residents and it’s not easy to keep asking local people to contribute to the issues that we are facing in policing and as a society.
“It’s really important that residents tell me what they would be prepared to pay. These are difficult decisions and I need to be sure that I have heard from as many local people as possible.”
Ms Mountstevens is asking for views via a survey, which can be completed at www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk until January 14.
For more information or to request a print copy of the survey, call 01278 646188.