Increased police tax to fund more officers to help victims of serious crimes
- Credit: Archant
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has confirmed it will recruit 70 more officers to improve its investigations team following a budget increase.
PCC Sue Mountstevens has confirmed an increase in the policing part of the council tax – known as the precept – of 5.88 per cent for local residents, equivalent to £13.39 per year for the average Band D household.
The increase will allow the constabulary to manage cost pressures, recruit additional police officers and enhance investigative capacity to improve outcomes for victims of the most traumatic and life-changing crimes such as rape and sexual offences, child abuse and exploitation.
Ms Mountstevens said: "I know it is a difficult decision, but if the council tax were not increased, Avon and Somerset police would have to make significant cuts and their services to people would be significantly reduced.
“It is vital to balance the challenges facing policing, the increased threat from criminality, resident’s views and their safety. Through my consultation, I heard from more than 3,500 people and the majority supported an increase to support policing."
It follows a decision from the Home Office to freeze the policing grant for 2021/22 and allowing PCCs to significantly increase the policing part of the council tax in order to simply keep pace with inflation in the budget as a whole.
Initially, the PCC proposed an increased precept of 6.6 per cent which was vetoed by the Police and Crime Panel - the first time a PCC's budget has been rejected in Avon and Somerset.
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The funding will also go towards developing the force’s estates strategy by re-developing and improving police station provision.
Ms Mountstevens added: “This is a really positive step for policing and is good news for residents as it will keep our communities safe, and allow us to work towards our vision of excellent victim services, better policing, and fairer criminal justice services for all.
“Since 2012, it has been a priority of mine to put victims first and this investment will increase the forces investigative capacity to improve outcomes for victims and ensure we continue to give them a voice.
“Avon and Somerset police receive one of the lowest funding settlements in the country compared to its relative need and population and, alongside the Chief Constable, I have long campaigned for fairer funding through the police funding formula.”