The consultation closed on Sunday 28 January, with more than 4,800 residents taking part and 79% supporting a rise.
It is the responsibility of Police & Crime Commissioners to take a decision annually on whether to raise or freeze the policing precept. Previously, PCCs could increase the amount by a maximum of 1.99%. For the coming financial year, the Policing Minister suggested that PCCs pursue an increase of £1 per month for an average Band D household.
For this reason, the consultation asked residents whether they would be prepared to pay an additional £1 per month to support policing in Dorset.
PCC Martyn Underhill said: “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to have their say. This is always a hugely important piece of consultation, but given the unprecedented increase recommended by the Government, it was particularly vital this year that I gathered the views of as many residents as possible.
“I have been honest throughout that I am disappointed that the Government failed to provide any additional central funding for Dorset Police, but confident that the income raised from a precept increase is necessary for the Force to maintain a high level of service for the community. I am pleased that residents have appreciated this complex picture and have once again demonstrated just how important local policing is to them.”
As well as consulting on the proposed precept increase, residents were also asked if they felt that Dorset Police generally required more investment. 90% agreed that it did.
PCC Martyn Underhill continued: “I have long campaigned for fairer funding for Dorset Police and this result tells me that residents support this and appreciate the challenges facing the service.
“The response also suggests that over half of those who said they would not be prepared to pay an additional £1 per month still recognise that the Force needs the investment. Looking at the comments, many believe that the bill should be footed by central Government and others have expressed their support for the police, but concerns over their own financial situations. I fully appreciate both these challenges to the proposal.
“The reality is that Dorset Police has had its central Government funding cut by more than £16m over the last seven years. This has had an unavoidable impact on the Force and the consultation shows that this has not gone unnoticed by the communities it serves.”
The PCC will present his proposal to raise the precept to the Police and Crime Panel in the coming days. This body consists of councillors and independent members, who will offer their critique of the proposal and help to ensure the final decision is in the best interest of Dorset residents.
Following this, the PCC will make a final decision and any changes to the policing precept will take effect from the new financial year, beginning 1 April 2018.