Police Share of Council Tax Up 1.99% Rise (£3.18 a Year on Average) - Enquiry Office Houghton Regis Among the Cuts.
Beds Police will ask for a 1.99% rise (£3.18 a year for the average band D property) in their share of Council Tax. But local police enquiry offices are to close from 21st March.
38 out of 41 Police and Crime Commissioner budgets for 2016/17 have chosen to increase their police council tax precept, with most of them levying the maximum permitted.
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins, said, “The Chancellor in his Autumn Statement assumed that PCCs would increase local people’s contribution to policing in their council tax by the maximum permitted. His widely acclaimed ‘no cuts’ announcement regarding the overall policing budget is actually dependent on this rise this year and for the next 4 years. Police precepts are now effectively being set in Whitehall as the burden for funding local services is shifted to council tax.”
More than three-quarters (78.4%) of participants in the Commissioner’s on-line survey and face-to-face poll agreed that the policing element of the council tax should go up. The same number of those taking part in the survey also agreed that police officer numbers should be maintained.
Mr Martins, “I consulted the public about the rise, and I am acting in accordance with the public’s feedback. "
The Government has cut Bedfordshire’s Police grant by £400,000. The Chief Constable for Bedfordshire says he needs 300 extra police staff to put this County on a par with other police forces.
Mr Martins said, “We still face continuing financial strains due to expected Police Grant cuts, pay pressures and National Insurance changes. In the next four years we will have to make a further £11m in savings. We hope do this without reducing our already overstretched ‘thin blue line’.”
“We have 169 officers per 100,000 population. In England and Wales the average is 232. In the Metropolitan area the average is 388. We face serious crime challenges more commonly found within the larger urban police forces. Bedfordshire has burglary levels like the West Midlands, gun crime worse than Merseyside and similar knife crime. Both those forces have above average funding and therefore better officer numbers. Bedfordshire funding is similar to Dorset, Sussex and Hertfordshire, who have nothing like our policing challenges. In fact last year Herts were £7m underspent on their police budget, hence why their PCC Mr Lloyd was able to cut his precept.
“My commitment is to continue campaigning for a fairer funding formula from the Home Office until Bedfordshire receives the funding it deserves. Sadly the government looks set to kick their review of the funding formula into the long grass.”
- A new, purpose-built, Enquiry Office for the Beds Police at its headquarters in Kempston, opening 8am to 8pm seven days a week from Monday 21 March. Dunstable Police Station Enquiry Office will be open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday from 21 March, as will Greyfriars Police Station in Bedford.
- Enquiry Offices at Biggleswade, Leighton Buzzard, Flitwick and Houghton Regis Police Stations will close from March 20th, although it is important to understand they remain as fully functioning operational police stations.
- Residents can still book a time to go and see an officer at any of the stations, or in the comfort of their own homes. The same applies at Riseley Police Post and Futures House in Marsh Farm, Luton.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins, added: “We have had to take some really difficult decisions in order to ensure we spend our limited resources in the most effective way possible. Some of our smaller Enquiry Offices were only being used by a handful of people, whereas the overwhelming majority contact the police in other ways. So we are keeping Enquiry Offices where demand justifies it and tailoring opening hours to what is needed, whilst otherwise directing resources to protecting frontline policing.
“Naturally I will continue to press the Government for fairer police funding for Bedfordshire, so that instead of facing difficult decisions such as this we can instead recruit the 300 extra officers the Chief Constable says we should have.”