Public speak their mind about police cuts

PUBLISHED: 13:00 17 December 2010

The Police Authority is also carrying out online and telephone surveys

The Police Authority is also carrying out online and telephone surveys

Archant

COUNCIL tax rises and cuts to specialist police units were two of the suggestions voiced by Weston residents at a special focus group meeting about force cuts.

The meeting was held by the Police Authority, who set Avon and Somerset Police’s budget, at the YMCA in Weston on December 9, with residents being asked how the force should deal with cuts which are set to be announced in February.

The session was one of several held in the South West to help them reach conclusions as to where cuts will be made.

Most residents asked in the session saw local policing as a priority which should be protected, and see increased investment if possible.

Areas which residents would like to see cuts in included specialist operations such as dog, firearms and riot units, and support and back room staff.

The force’s budget of £280million is one third funded by council tax and two thirds by the Home Office. The Home Office ratio is set to be cut by 20 per cent over the next four years.

All of the residents asked in the session said that they favoured a rise in the policing part of the council tax, although police say this is not seen as a likely alternative at the present time.

As well as the focus group session, police will be holding online, postal and telephone surveys in the coming weeks.

Avon and Somerset Police Authority Chief Executive John Smith said: “This is a crucial time and like any public body receiving a reduction in funding there will be some tough decisions to make.

“We want to make sure residents are properly consulted and have their say, as we look to make the right decisions.

“The Police Authority will set the final police budget in February 2011, and residents will have played a real part in identifying the priorities and shape of future policing services.”

The survey results will be published at the end of January.

To take part in the online survey, visit www.consultation.avonandsomerset.police.uk

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