The Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Panel today approved a request for an increase of more than 12 per cent in the policing part of Council Tax bills.
At its meeting this morning, the panel backed the 12.4 per cent increase for 2019/20 put forward by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens. The increase equates to an extra £24 per year for a Band D property and would raise £15m.
The panel approved the budget, on the proviso that there are measures of improved performance that can be monitored, specifically around rural crime, burglary rates and recruitment of 100 new officers. The budget was approved by 14 votes to one.
Last year the Police and Crime Panel agreed to an increase of £12 per year for a Band D property. New Government flexibilities introduced this year allow Police and Crime Commissioners to increase the police element of the Council Tax bill by up to £24 per year for a Band D property.
The majority of the country’s 36 commissioners are thought to be seeking this maximum increase, and six have already had it approved by their respective panels.
After the meeting, Vice Chair of the Panel, Councillor Mark Weston from Bristol City Council, said: “The panel respects the challenging work of the police and appreciates the financial pressures facing the force.
“But, as representatives of the tax payers of Avon and Somerset, we also have to focus on value for money.
“The panel has agreed this increase, but we want to see something measurable that we can point to when we are talking to our residents. In particular we want to be sure that the additional money that tax payers are paying leads to a tangible improvements in tackling crime, particularly in the areas of burglary and rural crime”.
In her precept proposal, Sue Mountsevens set out some of the key areas for investment within the force. These included recruitment of 100 extra officers during 2019 to support more visible policing and the tackling of local issues; and Operation Remedy – a new targeted operation to address burglary, drugs and knife crime.
Established in 2012, the Police Crime Panel is made up of councillors from the ten authorities in the force area and three independent members. It supports and scrutinises the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
It reviews plans and objectives, scrutinises the Commissioner’s proposed Council Tax precept and appointment of a Chief Constable, and looks at any complaints about their conduct.
For more information about the Panel, including how the public can get involved, visit http://www.avonandsomersetpoliceandcrimepanel.org.uk/
Somerset County Council currently acts as the Host Authority for the Panel and is responsible for its administrative and officer support arrangements.