Precept increase set to raise millions more for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 August 2019

Chief Constable Andy Marsh and Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh and Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens.

Archant

Council tax payers across Avon and Somerset are stumping up an extra £15million towards policing this year.

The latest Home Office data shows £123.1million in funding for Avon and Somerset Constabulary will come from council tax bills - up from £107.8 million last year.

Meanwhile, funding from Government increased from £174million to £180.1million as a result the share of the police budget paid from council tax has risen to 41 per cent - nine per cent higher than the national average.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens said she 'understood it is a big increase for households' but with 'the Government set on raising money for policing from local people' she had the 'unenviable job' of deciding how to meet the challenges facing the force.

She said: "We will continue to protect neighbourhood policing the very eyes and ears of our communities and invest in additional officers for the first time in over a decade.

"I'm committed with the Chief Constable to intensify our fight against violence on our streets, in our towns and cities with high profile disruption activity for burglary, drugs and serious violence.

"Sending a clear message to those coming into our area to commit crime and exploit our children is not an option.

"This money will not fix everything but it's the first investment we've seen since austerity began in 2010 and it's a big step in the right direction."

Most PCCs opted to increase the police precept to £24 per household, including Avon and Somerset.

Nationwide, force funding increased seven per cent to £12.1billion in 2019-20 but according to a report published by the National Audit Office last year, funding has continually fallen in real terms over the last decade.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales said passing the buck from the Government to police and crime commissioners (PCCs) is 'grossly unfair' and said it risked creating a two-tier system where wealthier communities would have more cash available for policing than others.

He said: "The bulk of increases in police budgets will fall on council tax payers, with no guarantees that PCCs will implement the rises.

Police funding has made national headlines this week, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson promising funding to pay for 20,000 more officers.

His Conservative Government have also outlined plans to 'come down hard' on criminals, with more stop and searches planned and tougher sentences.

However, Labour's Shawdow Home Secretary Diane Abbott described the former as a 'tried and tested recipe for unrest, not violence reduction'.

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