Council tax set to rise to fund more police

Council tax across Hampshire will likely increase by around £10 per year to pay for more police officers.

The police and crime commissioner for Hampshire, Donna Jones, had her budget supported by the county council’s police and crime panel last week.

Mrs Jones, who is pictured with Hampshire Chief Constable, Olivia Pinkney, proposed £10 per year council tax increases for band D properties for the next three years.

While council tax is a single payment for taxpayers, the money is divided among councils, emergency services and more. Council tax will form 41 per cent of Hampshire Constabulary’s budget for 2022/23, totalling £410.5m.

This is £23.4m more than the previous year. The budget will also see £1.5m spent on improving the 101 service. Mrs Jones said: ‘£10 per year might not sound like much but for struggling families that’s money that can’t be spent on food, or puts them further into debt.

‘I’ve given a lot of consideration to that – but we’re going above and beyond to pay for the 600 additional police officers I promised when I was elected. For those in band A and B properties with council tax discounts, it works out at around 6p per week.

‘Police officers also haven’t had a pay rise in four years and it’s long overdue. I’ve budgeted for a 3.5 per cent – which would be much deserved- and anything left over from that will go towards getting more police officers too.’ Council tax alone will pay for 196 officers, Mrs Jones added.

However, according to UNISON, the UK’s largest trade union, analysis of data provided by the Home Office last year, shows there are about 1,400 fewer police and police staff in Hampshire today than in 2010 – a 22% cut.

The union, which represents police staff across the country, says there are now 15% fewer police staff (include 999 call-takers, crime scene examiners, fingerprint experts, PCSOs, crime scene analysts, cyber-crime specialists, trainers and detention officers), 38% fewer police community support officers (PCSOs), and 25% fewer police officers compared to the levels a decade ago.

The police and crime commissioner ran a consultation towards the end of last year, receiving more than 4,000 responses. Overall, 64 per cent of responses supported the council tax increase, although young adults tended to oppose the plans.

Mrs Jones said: ‘It’s not sustainable to keep increasing council tax. The long-awaited police funding formula review has started and we’re part of the investigation work for that.’

The budget was also praised by chief constable Olivia Pinkney, who said the additional money will go a long way for everyday policing.

She said: ‘There is a strong operational case for this precept uplift. This constabulary remains a good one, but we want to so even better. We’re running a tight ship and spending taxpayer money wisely. I am determined to build on the progress we have made and this budget enables us to do that.’

Nine members voted to support the budget, with three against and one abstention.

Photo: Hampshire Police