Police face a tough choice

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Ten new officers or a rise in council tax is the choice facing Derbyshire Police Authority today (Thursday) when it will meet to set the budget for policing the county.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has told all police authorities that they risk being ‘capped’ if their budget requirement for 2011-12 is more than 92.5 per cent of last year’s and if the increase in the amount of council tax paid towards policing exceeds 3.5 per cent.

However, the Government has agreed that police authorities freezing or reducing the amount of council tax needed for policing will qualify for a grant worth 2.5 per cent from the Government.

That means Derbyshire authority members must consider two options: a zero per cent increase on the precept which would keep the amount paid by a Band D householder at £163.74 and an increase being recommended by the Chief Constable of 3.44% which equates to an increase of £5.63 per year for a Band D household.

The amount of council tax paid towards policing in Derbyshire is one of the lowest in the region.

Chairman of the Police Authority, Cllr Philip Hickson, said: “We have to consider the financial hardship facing many households in Derbyshire against the fact that if we were to increase the council tax precept, it would mean we could fund ten new police officers during the year.

“I do not feel it would be right to impose any increase in Council Tax this year especially as Derbyshire County Council, Derby City Council and the Fire Authority are not increasing their precepts – but the members will have the final say.

“We have taken steps to achieve the necessary savings, including a freeze on officer and staff recruitment, a voluntary redundancy scheme and changes to the structure of the force.”