Police warning: 'You are being robbed'

PUBLISHED: 10:00 14 July 2012

Archant

YOU are being robbed - that is the message from Avon and Somerset Police Authority over £20million of taxpayers' money from its force area it says is being spent in other parts of the country.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Police Authority and Avon and Somerset Police Federation have teamed up to highlight what they term an ‘unfair tax fund transfer’.

The bodies have set up an online petition and are urging members of the public to sign it as well as write to their MP.

Authority chairman Dr Peter Heffer said: “This is not about austerity measures, we are making our fair share of the cuts.

“This is about an unfair tax fund transfer, in which residents in this area are paying for other parts of the country to be policed.

“The Government assesses that we need £20million to meet our needs but instead it is given away to other parts of the country with less need.”

The petition comes after the Home Office announced a review of police funding formulas, which includes a public consultation.

The Mercury reported last week how cutbacks at the force will leave one in eight officers facing the axe as it looks to save £42million by 2015.

Roughly two thirds of a police force’s funding comes from central Government funding.

Avon and Somerset has seen its grant need scaled back to cover the cost of providing a minimum increase to all police authorities.

These adjustments to the formula, known as damping, have seen Avon and Somerset Constabulary lose out on £100million to this process since 2005-06, or £20million a year – the equivalent of 450 police officers.

A poster produced alongside the campaign states: “It’s criminal – you’re being robbed. If you want your taxes to pay for policing your area, sign the e-petition for a fairer deal.”

The authority says it wants to see the practice phased out because it is unfair and fails to address actual need.

Mr Heffer added: “This complex transfer of our taxes means that while areas like ours miss out, other police authorities are building up their cash reserves.

“This is not only the view of this police authority but it is also the opinion of the National Audit Office and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee who have both classed this tax transfer as ‘unfair’ and ‘complex’.

“With the Home Office finally consulting on this, we believe now is the time for change. If you are aggrieved about your hard-earned taxes paying for other areas to be policed I urge you to sign the e-petition or write to your MP.”

To view or sign the petition, go to www.consultation.avonand somerset.police.uk by July 30.

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