COUNCIL tax is set to increase for ratepayers across Hampshire as the police and crime commissioner backs a hike.
An extra £25m funding for Hampshire police could ensure 200 new officers can be recruited and trained, 60 police staff investigators and a new course for PCSOs.
Government yesterday announced it would allow crime commissioners to increase the police precept by £2 a month for a band D property.
If the council tax police precept is increased, Hampshire will have £339.2m for 2019/20, up from £314.2m in 2018/19.
And Michael Lane, commissioner for Hampshire, has said he welcomes the announcement.
Mr Lane said: ‘In welcoming the option to raise local precept, I should be immediately clear that there is only one option that I can recommend to the people I serve, with the intention to keep them safer.
‘That is to take full advantage of the settlement to protect current police services and use the additional £2 per month option to deliver local safety, through plans devised by the chief constable as the operational expert.’
Mr Lane said the funding will mean chief constable Olivia Pinkney can maintain ‘the same level of policing’ in Hampshire.
The county’s force is recognised as being under-funded by around £45m, with heavy budget cuts and the loss of nearly 1,000 officers in recent years.
Alex Charge, who as Hampshire Police Federation chairman represents rank-and-file police officers, and the chief constable have welcomed the move.
In a joint statement they said: ‘We very much welcome today’s announcement that our police and crime commissioner is recommending the maximum investment for policing in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and that this would all be used on policing services.
‘The challenges of funding faced by the constabulary are well documented, and this would give us the opportunity to protect the service we can offer to our local communities.’
Police minister Nick Hurd said: ‘We recognise the police face significant financial pressures in the coming year.
‘This settlement offers a substantial increase in funding for the whole police system to ensure forces recruit, meet local priorities and continue to improve efficiency to free up resources for the front line.’
The Home Office is spending £153m on covering police pension costs across the country, The News revealed Hampshire feared could see a reduction in officers.