Rise in policing element of council tax gets Police & Crime Panel approval

Police & Crime Panel members were given the opportunity to scrutinise the Commissioner’s proposal, before opting to support his decision to raise the policing precept.

15 councillors and two independent members make up the Panel, which exists to scrutinise the work of the Commissioner, including the annual precept proposal. They met today, Thursday 1 February at County Hall in Dorchester. Two members were unable to attend due to illness.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “Today’s precept setting Panel was different to those in previous years. Never before in my 39 years across policing have I seen such a change in funding, demand, complexity or capacity in such a short period of time.

“The Government has made its stance clear. At least for now, any additional funding to meet these unprecedented challenges will not come from the centre, but from local policing precepts, which PCCs are expected to increase.

“PCCs were encouraged to seek a £1 a month rise for the financial year 2018/19, so this is the amount I proposed to Dorset residents during six weeks of consultation.”

The results of the consultation were presented at the Panel meeting. In total, more than 4,800 residents shared their views, with 79% prepared to pay the additional £1 per month. The enhancement on each individual household payment will amount to around £3.4m in extra income for Dorset Police, going some way to offset cuts in central funding.

PCC Martyn Underhill continued: “I would like to once again thank all those that shared their views over the last six weeks. I know that many families in Dorset are facing financial challenges, yet close to four out of five respondents were still prepared to pay an enhanced amount to support their local police. This reflects just how important an effective police force is to residents.

“Panel members have regular contact with their communities so understand them well. Today, they have heard the views of the people of Dorset, appreciated the Force’s current situation and I am pleased that they too have supported the proposal.”

Today’s meeting concludes the consultation process and the Commissioner’s decision to raise the policing precept stands. The change will come into effect from 1 April 2018.