Proposal to raise council tax to pay for 200 more police staff

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: t Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson t Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson

The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner is proposing an increase in police council tax which he says would pay for 200 more officers and staff.

Mark Burns-Williamson is recommending increasing the precept for 2014/15 by two per cent, which he says will cost taxpayers less than a penny extra a day if given the go ahead.

His proposal, which would help finance the recruitment of an extra 126 officers and 70 essential police staff within West Yorkshire Police, will be discussed by the Police and Crime Panel next week.

But Mr Burns-Williamson has warned there will still be an overall reduction of nearly 100 officers due to Government funding cuts.

Mr Burns-Williamson said the proposed increase would mean an average 5p a week extra for two-thirds of households across West Yorkshire.

But he warned that, even if the recruitment was achieved, the £152 million savings the force has to find would mean an overall reduction of 98 officers, plus a cut in staff.

Latest Home Office figures showed there were 4,937 police officers in West Yorkshire in September 2013 – down from 5,095 the previous September, a figure which was nearly 300 below that of 2011.

West Yorkshire police staff fell by 77 to 2,815 in September 2013, while in the same period the numbers of police community support officers dropped from 733 to 666.

Mr Burns-Williamson’s proposal would mean council taxpayers in band D properties would pay £138.20 for the police precept, up from £135.50, with the 64 per cent of households in West Yorkshire in bands A and B seeing an increase from £90.34 to £92.13 and £105.39 to £107.49 respectively.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “I believe my proposal to the panel provides a sound footing in helping to safeguard the future of West Yorkshire Police and protect the frontline.

“I have pledged to protect frontline officers by ringfencing funding to pay for PCSOs, and am also providing additional funding to tackle key community safety priorities, including a £1 million fund to tackle domestic violence and sexual offences across the county.

“But this investment is essential to ensure that the most pressing needs of West Yorkshire are met, to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the fast-diminishing numbers of police officers and police staff.”

The Police and Crime Panel will consider the PCC’s proposals at its meeting on February 7, and the eventual budget must be agreed and publicly issued by March 1.

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