Cheshire's police and crime commissioner is asking residents and businesses for their views on how much council tax they pay towards local policing.
PCC David Keane has today (Tuesday 7th January) launched an online consultation to ask local people if they would be willing to support up to a maximum of £2 per month increase in the policing precept for the average band D household.
He said: "Over the last decade police funding has been subject to stringent funding cuts from central Government.This has seen the policing budget in Cheshire decrease in real-terms year-on-year since 2010. In a decade where demand on policing has increased by one third, and become increasingly complex, the government's programme of austerity has meant that Cheshire has suffered a big decrease in police officers, support staff posts and other essential resources as we've struggled with more than £60 million of real term cuts.
"Whilst imposing cuts nationally, central government has dictated the shift of the funding burden onto local residents, requiring commissioners to consult on raising the policing element of council tax. Whilst I believe that policing should be funded from government as the first responsibility of the state is keeping its people safe, I promised to protect our public and our public services and to carefully listen to the views of local residents.
"Historically, this annual consultation is set around the government's Provisional Police Funding Settlement which local police services usually receive in December. Due to the late general election in 2019, police services are yet to receive their Provisional Funding Settlement for 2020/21 so we have to work on an assumption of the continuance of a flat-cash settlement from Government with no additional funding to support additional demand or to cover pay and price inflation. The chief constable has advised me to consult with Cheshire residents on a precept that enables him to deliver a police service which keeps our communities safe.
"At £200.44, the police element of band D council tax in Cheshire is currently the ninth lowest in the country. And thanks to the support of local residents in last year's policing precept, we have delivered on our promise of locally recruiting 43 officers in the last nine months.
"We are also expecting to see some of the police officer posts, of the circa 21,000 that have been lost over the last decade, start to be replaced by the government funded national uplift programme. Cheshire are expecting to see 30 of these officers this year which will start to help us reverse the effects of austerity on policing but while these officers may be funded, there appears no protection for the current budget and for current officer numbers in Cheshire to be maintained.
"Therefore, the chief constable and I are asking residents and businesses in Cheshire if they are willing to support up to an extra £2 per month increase for the average band D household. This will enable the chief constable to invest in a number of areas which are operational threats for Cheshire Police including county lines, major crime and modern slavery and human trafficking."
There will also be a number of roadshows held across Cheshire where residents can talk to the commissioner directly about their views on the precept and complete the consultation survey face-to-face.
The nearest public consultation events will take place at Sainsbury's in Macclesfield on Friday 17th January from 10am to 12noon.
Cheshire residents can also give their views by completing a survey on the Cheshire PCC website.
The consultation closes at midnight on Sunday 26 January 2020.