Should council tax go up to pay for more policing?
Like all public sector organisations, Gloucestershire police have made big cuts in recent years – around £25m since 2011. For an organisation with a budget of just over £100m that is a considerable reduction. Those cuts were made in line with the government’s expectation the deficit would be cleared by now but, as we all know, it’s not worked out that way and further cuts of a similar magnitude are on the horizon.
The police are not asking to be a special case but the range of crimes they now have to deal with is wider than ever. Things like child sexual exploitation, people trafficking, online sexploitation and honour based violence were unheard of until fairly recently and it’s the job of the police to protect the public from these and many other things.
If the police portion of the council tax stays the same, it will mean they will likely have to save a further £13m over the next three years which would almost certainly result in the loss of a large number of officers and staff. A 2% increase in council tax would reduce the figure to £10m and mean fewer officers would be lost at the cost to an average band D householder of around an extra £4 per year or less than 8 pence per week.
Those are a couple of options I have to consider and while I will consider the case put forward by the police on its merits, I am keen to hear your views as well.
This period of austerity has been tough for many people and it’s not a good time to be asking them to pay more, but there has to be a balance between the needs of the police and the wishes of the public and I have to prepare a budget in that context.
Martin Surl, Police and Crime Commissioner
Watch the budget consultation video