Leicestershire police commissioner paving the way for tax rise?

The county's Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader
The county's Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader

Hundreds of residents in the county have said they would be willing to pay more for policing in the coming year, the crime commissioner’s office has said.

The findings came in a survey carried out by staff of commissioner Sir Clive Loader, who will soon be setting the police budget for 2015-16.

It would be the first rise in the police portion of the Council Tax since 2012-13 and comes at a time when Harborough’s policing resources have been called into question.

The online and telephone poll involving 850 residents, was carried out at the end of last year. It asked whether taxpayers would be prepared to pay more in the element of their tax bills spent on policing, known as the precept.

Police say the “overwhelming majority” said they would be prepared to pay an extra 2 per cent. However, the exact numbers in the poll have not been disclosed.

It would mean an extra 7p a week – or £3.64 a year – for the average Band D household.

Residents have raised fears in recent months over how many officers are on duty in Harborough, especially in the evenings.

A total of 163 people completed the online survey and about 700 on the phone.

Police say a copy of the survey results will be available on the commissioner’s website “in due course”.

Sir Clive said: “Without doubt, those opinions will help me in deciding the amount of money to be charged for policing in the coming year.

“The consultation results show a clear preference towards a two per cent increase despite the fact this would represent an extra financial burden – albeit relatively small – on often hard-pressed families.

“To me, that clearly demonstrates the importance the public place on having a well-resourced police service.”

He will outline his final decision on January 29.

Harborough Council has frozen its portion of the Council Tax for five years in a row and Leicestershire County Council for four straight years.

Last year’s police budget was £172.6m. Cuts of more than £16m have been identified and plans are in place for a further £7m to be found.

Freezing the precept would mean the force needing to find an extra £500,000 in savings.

Increasing it by 1.5 per cent would mean residents paying an extra £2.65 a year and the force having to cut an extra £300,000. Increasing it by two per cent would mean an extra £3.64 to be paid by residents with no extra cuts needed.