Policing element of council tax bills set to rise

Hertsmere finance chiefs want to increase council tax bills

For those living in Band A properties, the police element of the council tax will increase by £6.67, to £148.67 in 2022/23. - Credit: PA

The policing element of council tax bills in Hertfordshire is set to rise by 4.69 per cent in 2022/23.

The increase – equivalent to an extra £10 a year for a Band D property – was proposed by Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd.

On Tuesday (February 8) it was backed by a meeting of the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Panel by a majority vote.

In making the case for the increase, Mr Lloyd pointed to plans to increase the number of frontline police officers in the county, to embed the ‘Prevention First’ model and to invest in digital capability.

He said that – even with the increase – it would still remain one of the lowest council tax contributions for policing in the country.

According to Mr Lloyd, Hertfordshire Constabulary is expected to reach the existing target of 2,267 police officers by the end of March.

In the next financial year, he says he plans to increase the number of police officers by a further 90.

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With increasing numbers of police officers leaving the force before retirement, there are also plans to increase the south east allowance by £500 a year – to £2,500 – to increase retention.

And there are money-saving plans, the panel heard, to recruit 20 call handlers to the force control room staff – by removing vacant police officer call handler posts.

In addition, plans to recruit an additional 20 PCSOs were highlighted to the panel.

These officers would focus on tackling anti-social behaviour and diverting children away from criminality – in line with the force’s ‘Prevention First’ ethos.

Also highlighted in the plan were proposals to invest £637,000 in technology that would ‘significantly improve efficiency and effectiveness'.

This would, it was reported, be used to address concerns around cyber crime and to trial tools that could be used to transfer video evidence to the police.

The overall cost of running the constabulary next year (2022/23) is reported to be £260m – of which £102m would be raised from council tax contributions.

The planned 4.69 per cent increase in the policing element of the council tax would account for £4.59million.

According to proposals appended to the report, the budget for the running of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner will rise by £108,000 next year (2022/23), to £2.112 million.

In advance of the meeting, the police and crime commissioner had commissioned a public consultation which had backed the planned council tax increase – with 62 per cent of the 2,446 respondents saying they agreed.

Those who agreed pointed to their desire to see more police officers on the streets – and suggested that a £10 a year increase was a good use of public money.

However 29 per cent of respondents – that’s 704 responses – said they disagreed with the commissioner’s approach.

Some of them had suggested there had not been any evidence of an increase in the visibility of officers over the past year.

Others pointed to financial circumstances in the wake of the pandemic and with expected increases in inflation – and others pointed to their lack of confidence in the police, said to be based on their previous experience.

For those living in Band A properties, the police element of the council tax will increase by £6.67, to £148.67 in 2022/23.

For those living in Band D properties, it will increase by £10, to £213. And for those living in the most expensive Band H properties council it will increase by £20, to £426.

Overall the increases will generate an additional £4.59m for policing in the county.

Final council tax bills also include sums for the county council, the district or borough council and – in some areas – for parish councils too.

The police and crime panel is made up of representatives from each of the 11 councils in Hertfordshire and two independent members.

The panel’s next meeting – which is open to the public – will be held on March 17.