Extra Beds Police officers to be recruited after public back plan to increase council tax precept

Police on the beat

Bedfordians will see an additional 20 police constables on the streets, after an increase in the police share of council tax which was approved by the county’s Police and Crime Panel this month.

The panel approved the precept increase – £10 a year for a Band D home – or 84p per month – in order to achieve another £9.7m funding for Bedfordshire Police in 2020/21.

Police and Crime Panel Chairman, Paul Cain, said: “At our meeting on 4 February the Police and Crime Panel welcomed and fully supported the commissioner’s plans to deliver an increase in police numbers over the coming financial year, and to increase the council tax precept in line with the Government’s guidelines. We fully support the ongoing drive to increase police numbers in Bedfordshire.

“However, the panel also strongly voiced their views that central Government simply cannot continue to ignore the central funding issues and their policy of repeatedly asking for the investment through council tax precept funding, and one-off grants.

“This situation is no longer tenable.”

The rise in council tax means the Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, can deliver the promise she made when setting the budget last year of recruiting an additional 20 police officers by 2021, as part of a total of 156 PCs – of whom 36 are Bedfordshire’s share of the national uplift in 2020/21 and 100 are needed to replace leavers. (The core grant from Government also includes payment for 18 extra officers who were recruited in the financial year 2019/20 as the first part of the national uplift).

The Home Office had allowed Police and Crime Commissioners nationally to raise the precept without the need for consultation, however Bedfordshire’s OPCC issued a survey which saw 82 per cent of respondents supporting the proposed increase.

“I laid out my plans last year to increase the number of police officers in Bedfordshire, so I am delighted to now have the backing to make this a reality.

“As I have promised, I’m determined that the extra officers will be front line and visible to strengthen the police presence in our communities, so the people of Bedfordshire are directly contributing to making their towns and villages safer”, said Commissioner Holloway.

“I have overseen the implementation of Community Hubs across Bedfordshire and the introduction of a Neighbourhood Enforcement Team to tackle those key issues which matter to our residents.

“The further investment of effectively just 84p a month from every household will have a significant benefit to the county.”

The Home Office had previously given forces extra money to pay for inflation impacted costs such as pay, pensions and insurance.

Commissioner Holloway said, “As I’ve said before, continuing to fund the investment in policing through the council tax precept is simply not sustainable.

“Bedfordshire must be given funding which reflects the complex crime challenges it faces, rather than continually having to find alternative means to pay for this additional policing requirement through one-off payments or grants.”

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