Crime boss warns not backing tax hike is '˜not safe'

EXTRA cash from residents is needed to fund police or the force could see cuts, the crime commissioner has said.

Monday, 16th January 2017, 6:00 am

Residents are being asked if they are willing to fork out up to an extra £5 a year to maintain numbers and sustain neighbourhood policing in the county.

A snap poll run by The News showed 61 per cent of more than 300 people have said they would not be willing to pay any extra cash, while 32 per cent are willing to pay up to £5 extra a year.

Speaking to The News, crime commissioner Michael Lane said: ‘I don’t think it’s safe not to increase it. My concern is with the national funding.’

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Mr Lane is running a consultation asking views on three options:

n No increase, which would affect grant from government and cut the force.

n A 1.99 per cent increase per year (£3.19 for Band D), allowing increase in investigations and reach firearms capability requirement but cutting neighbourhood.

n A 3.12 per cent increase per year (£5 for Band D), protecting national grant and maintaining neighbourhood police.

Mr Lane is backing a £5 increase but said he needs listen to people further.

In a statement he said: ‘While I am recommending the £5 increase, as this will put us in a stronger position to meet the risks and respond to the increasing complexity of crime, I will strive to ensure that residents receive value for money and that effectiveness is not compromised.’

Bob Combes, from Gosport Neighbourhood Watch, said he believes people will support a £5 increase.

He said: ‘It’s ridiculously small and certainly we would fully support it in order to support the police.

‘We’ve had assurances from the previous and this police and crime commissioner that they want to support neighbourhood policing and we realise that high-visibility policing is not the way they work now.’

Any increase over 1.99 per cent would normally need a referendum but as Hampshire has one of the 10 lowest precepts, no referendum is required.

Hampshire police’s 2016/17 budget is £305m, with 65 per cent from a central grant and the rest from council tax.

Mr Lane is lobbying government to change the calculations used by government to work out how much cash Hampshire gets in a grant, saying the current funding formula is unfair.

The force has been made to make £80m cuts by April this year.

John Apter, who represents rank-and-file police officers as Hampshire Police Federation chairman, said an increase would not see extra officers on the beat.

He said: ‘It would seem that the public has to pay more because of what the government has taken out of policing.

‘The reality is that the police and crime commissioner is asking for an increase to sustain policing, not to give us anything extra.’

Complete the commissioner’s survey by January 20 at surveymonkey.co.uk/r/policebudgetsurveyCOMMENT

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