Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Keane, is launching a new countywide consultation on Cheshire's police precept from Monday, 8th January, the results of which could have significant ramifications for the force's future.
Mr Keane is leading the consultation on the police precept – a key component of homeowners' annual council tax bills – and will visit communities across the region to gauge the views of residents and businesses on potential police precept increases.
The consultation, which will last for three weeks, will see the Commissioner visit a number of locations across the county (the locations and times will be announced in the next week). Alternatively, residents and business owners can have their say online from Monday, 8th January.
Crime Commissioner David Keane said "With inflation rising and public sector pay increases on the horizon, maintaining Government grant flat-cash funding for police services at the same levels for the next financial year means, in real terms, a cut of around five million pounds to the Cheshire police budget.
"This five million pound shortfall is equivalent to losing 100 police officers from Cheshire's communities, that's in addition to dealing with new and growing threats such as rising crime levels, cybercrime and terrorism.
"The consultation will set out the genuine funding pressures being faced by the force as a result of funding challenges since 2010 and a "woeful" flat cash settlement from Government for the next financial year, 2018-2019.
"The police budget in Cheshire has endured more than £60 million worth of government funding cuts since 2010, which means the force is spending 37% less on policing, in real terms, than it was eight years ago.
"Like many police forces across the country we have done all we can to deal with these financial challenges, and there are very few further efficiency savings that we can make to help find this money. There is now a danger that the already overstretched thin blue line will be at breaking point unless we act.
"And I've made sure that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has shouldered the burden too, getting rid of company cars and cutting top salaries to an affordable level. My office, which costs less than half of one percent of overall police spend, is the second lowest cost PCC in the Country, delivering excellent value for money, whilst ensuring every extra penny saved has gone into maintaining front line policing that we can be proud of.
"As a result of the woeful settlement from Government, to plug the funding gap and to support community policing, I need to consider the options we have as a community to raise money locally via the council tax precept."
The consultation launches online on Monday, 8th January 2018 and will run for three weeks.