Extra £24 a year to pay for 100 cops
AN extra £24 per year will be added to the average council tax bill next month to pay for 100 more police officers.
The increase represents a 12.4% rise in the Avon & Somerset Constabulary precept, which will go up from £193.81 to £217.81 for people living in a Band D home this year.
It is the maximum increase the Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Panel could impose and will generate an extra £15 million, which is being specifically used to recruit 100 additional officers and support a burglary, drugs and knife crime crackdown called Operation Remedy, which will run for three months from April to June.
The number of police officers in Avon & Somerset Constabulary will increase to 2,751 – the first time in a decade that the force’s front-line manpower will have increased – but that is still far below 2010, when it was 3,300.
Police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens, who requested the rise, said: “What this is going to mean is a radical change to what we’ve done before.
“We have reduced our officers year after year, and therefore we’ve lost proactivity.
“The Government has now realised that you can’t keep pushing the police to tackle increased crime with a reduction of resources.”
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The panel heard that without the hike in the precept, more cuts would have had to be made.
Ms Mountstevens said: “Burglary, drugs and knife crime are areas that people are most concerned about. They are all connected.
“Because of cuts, police have been less proactive. Residents are very aware of that and the police are equally frustrated.”
Mendip Councillor John Parham, who was the only panel member to vote against the precept rise, said the system was “inherently unfair” because most people in Bristol paid less yet received more police resources.
“When you compare that to spending on policing, Bristol swallows up hugely more resources than gets spent in rural areas,” he said.
Ms Mountstevens said the money would not “disappear into a black hole” and that residents would notice that the force was making a difference.