Taxpayers set to foot the bill for Hampshire police funding for years to come

TAXPAYERS have been warned they face rising council tax bills to pay for policing for years to come – with a planned £24-a-year hike set to come in.

Thursday, 17th January 2019, 5:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:42 pm
Hampshire chief constable Olivia Pinkney. Picture: Sarah Standing

Cash-strapped police are to make cuts of £10m in the next three years while increasing the police precept for 2019/20 by £24 in a bid to raise £16m and protect recruitment of 200 officers.

It comes as a report to councillors on Hampshire police and crime commissioner Michael Lane’s new budget insists the tax increase will be used ‘in support of local policing’.

In a statement, chief constable Olivia Pinkney said: ‘Without the additional local funding that our Police and Crime Commissioner is recommending, police numbers would be reduced to an unsustainable level. With this funding we can push ahead with plans to recruit 200 officers, and more police staff investigators.’

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Last year’s budget-setting was rocked by an increase in Mr Lane’s office and commissioning - criticised as it came when police numbers were being cut.

Extensive consultation has seen backing of plans to make householders pay more, a report said. It adds that Hampshire Police Federation and Unison back the move.

In a statement, Mr Lane said: ‘Delivering modern operationally effective policing to keep us safe and defeat the greatest threats, while responding to community priorities is not an easy task in times of financial constraint, growing complexity and necessary change programmes to try to keep us ahead of criminals and those who wish us harm.

‘I am clear, and the chief constable is clear in her recommendations to me, that to protect current police services we must take full advantage of the settlement. All of the increase in the policing precept will be used to support local policing, and will enable the recruitment of just over 200 officers.’

Around £90m has been cut from Hampshire’s budget since 2011/2012.

The report to Hampshire’s police and crime panel reveals Mr Lane’s spending on his own team will drop by £14,000 from £2.044m this year to £2.030m in 2019/20. But by 2022/23 this is due to creep up by £142,000 in line with inflation.

His spending on commissioning groups and charities to work with victims or on projects to stop re-offending will shoot up by about £121,000 - up to £2.194m in 2019/20.

Councillors at the panel will next Friday in Southampton will vote on his budget, which also reveals how cash made from selling off police stations in Portsmouth when the new investigation centre is complete.

Around £1m a year will be ploughed back into investigations into sex offences, with £1.5m being spent on offices for teams tackling organised crime gangs.

The report reveals:

:: £90m has been cut from Hampshire police between 2011/12 and 2018/19.

:: 1,893 posts at the force have been axed - a 29 per cent reduction.

:: A minimum of £12 a year increase in council tax is needed for 2020/21 just to ‘sustain’ police numbers.

:: Without more cash it will ‘become increasingly difficult for the chief constable to meet the PCC’s commitment to keep the residents of Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton safer’.

:: About 61 per cent of householders living in Band A-C homes will pay less than the planned £24-a-year increase.

Alex Charge, Hampshire Police Federation chairman, said: ‘Hampshire Police Federation welcome the tax precept increase, and the agreement that all this money will be spent on policing.  It’s not a solution to the funding crisis but it is a life line that Hampshire needs.”