By Local Democracy Reporter
Taxpayers have been warned they could be facing a £24 council tax bill increase to pay for policing in Essex.
The average Band D property pays £169.02 per year as part of their council tax towards the funding of policing.
Last year Essex Police raised this level by £11.97. It was previously £157.05 and this brought it up to £169.02.
This increased allowed the force to hire another 150 officers.
The speculation this year is that the force may be given the power to raise it by up to £24 – double the £12 increase last year.
Roger Hirst, Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, who holds the purse strings for Essex Police, told the county’s crime panel at Essex County Council today (December 6) that he believes he will be given powers to slap as much as £24 on council tax bills next year when the government announces a settlement next week.
The Government Funding settlement for policing had been due to be announced today before the debate on Brexit filled the parliamentary schedule.
Instead it is due to be announced next week when the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is expected to give the green light to crime commissioners to increase police precept 2019/20 by £24.
Any budget proposals have to be passed by the crime panel.
Mr Hirst said: “I believe that forces will get more precept freedom, you probably saw in the press that the precept freedom will be doubled.
“So instead of £12 on a band D it will be £24 on a band D. In my dialogue with governmental authorities I have had no reason for me to disbelieve those reports.
“We know we need to deploy resources so I have asked the chief constable in his budget deliberations to at least do some scenario analysis as how we might effectively deploy that level of resource.”
The potential funding boost comes as the force, which has 3,000 officers, looks to boost police officers by another 150 next year.
Mr Hirst said ideally, being realistic, he would like to see as many as 3,250 officers.
He said: “We are now at 3,000 and when I come back to for the budget I’ll be able to give you a number for a further increase. I would really like to do the same again.
“And if we can do more and if we have freedom to do more, to be investing in crime prevention and getting crime and disorder down, that is where I’d like to be.”