Panel approves council tax increase to boost policing
Police and Crime Panel members have approved plans to raise the amount households pay to fund Dorset Police by £15 a year*.
Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Dorset, asked the panel for their agreement to increase the precept – the part of a monthly council tax bill that funds policing – by the equivalent of £1.25 a month, based on an average band D household*.
This follows a survey in which two thirds of Dorset residents said they would be prepared to pay the increased amount.
Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said: “I’d like to thank the panel for approving these plans but more importantly, I’d like to thank the county’s residents for their continued support – particularly during a time when I know many people are worried about their own finances.
“We heard just last week from the Home Office that Dorset Police are on track to recruiting their allocated number of new officers. This funding is excellent news for the Force – it will mean they’ll be able to recruit over and above this target, deliver a balanced budget and invest in new technology.”
All eleven members of the Dorset Police and Crime Panel, the body which oversees the work of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) voted to approve the plans during their meeting on Thursday 4 February.
Previously, the OPCC held a consultation with Dorset residents asking whether they would support an increase.
A total of 4,053 people responded, despite lockdown restrictions meaning that no face-to-face events could take place and so the survey was conducted entirely online.
Of those who responded, 77% said they agreed that Dorset Police required additional funding and 67% said they would be willing to pay the higher amount.
Dorset Police is now predicted to recruit an additional 64 new officers by the end of March as part of the Government’s three-year uplift programme and plans to recruit further new officers in 2021/22. This is higher than the Home Office’s allocation of new officers for the Force.
Martyn Underhill said: “The last year has been unlike anything I have known throughout my career in policing, with officers and frontline staff placing themselves on the frontline in the ongoing war against coronavirus. This funding will ensure the Force remains in a strong position to continue its excellent work of keeping people safe while also being able to evolve to meet new threats head on.
“Despite today’s decision being good news for Dorset Police, I remain immensely disappointed that yet again, I’ve had to go out cap in hand to ask for money from already hard pressed council tax payers.
“There still remain serious unanswered questions about the Government’s funding strategy for policing. I will continue to press the case for a better and fairer system than the current model, which massively disadvantages smaller forces like our own, which has to find almost half of its budget through local taxation.”
The change will come into effect across the Dorset and BCP Council areas from 1 April 2021.
* The increase quoted refers to Band D properties. For details of increases relating to other bands, see below.