Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has vowed to put more police on the streets after councillors backed his calls for the maximum possible increase in council tax bills.
Philip Seccombe said there was widespread public support for a £24 annual increase for a band D property and members of Warwickshire’s police and crime panel backed the tax rise which will be four times that imposed last year.
He explained that while there were cash reserves of more than £18m to cover items including replacement vehicles, buildings and an ICT replacement programme, the extra money would see 85 extra police officers taken on with staffing levels back up towards the all-time high of more than 1,000 officers ten years ago .
County Cllr Pete Gilbert (Con Bedworth East) said it appeared that people were willing to pay more for public services.
But he added: “Crime affects everybody so we need to protect those people and when we ask them to pay more money, it may be met with some hostility if it is not borne out in reality. They may need to be told that there may be a delay because if you say you are going to do something people will expect it to happen instantly.
Mr Seccombe said: “Last year’s precept, which we put up by £6, enabled the chief [constable] to go out and recruit another 50 police officers. Those 50 should be in place by May/June time. This further 85 will take us up to an establishment figure of 976 officers and that’s not far off the peak of Warwickshire Police in 2008 which was around 1,020. So there’s every chance that we can get Warwickshire Police, in officer numbers, over and above the highest point by the year 2021/22.
“Under my predecessor there was a freeze on recruiting police officers. We have had around 1,000 people over the last six months apply to join Warwickshire Police and on historical analysis about 20 per cent of those will become police officers.
“But it does take between nine and 12 months from the day they want to join to actually joining the force because they have to be properly trained.”
Stratford District Cllr Tony Jefferson (Con Welcombe) said expectations needed to be managed.
“What people say to me is that they want to see more police officers,” he added. “I’m pleased with the proposals and I think the issue is going to be the delivery of numbers. We all have a role to play because these extra numbers aren’t going to appear tomorrow, it is going to take time.”
Members of the police and crime panel voted unanimously to support the proposed council tax increase.