Herts Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd confirms council tax rise to pay for 2,100 officers
Herts Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has been asked to let volunteers staff the counter at Bishop's Stortford police station.
Cllr Colin Woodward, the Herts county councillor for Bishop's Stortford West, made the request as he and other members of the police and crime panel agreed the commissioner's £217m budget for the coming financial year.
Stortford households will pay 5.3% more for law and order in 2020-21. Mr Lloyd is asking for £10 more in council tax from a band D property, up from £188 to £198. This follows a 14.6% hike in April 2019 from £164 to £188 – so policing costs will have risen 20% over the past two years. Despite this, Hertfordshire is the fourth-lowest precepting authority for policing in England and Wales, 15.4% (£31) below the national average.
The precept pays for 42% of Hertfordshire Constabulary's 2020-21 budget, generating £90.5m. The other 58% – £126.8m – comes from central government grants.
Stortford residents' council tax bills will rise by an inflation-busting 3.87% in April, up from £1,785.72 to £1,854.84 – an increase of £69.12, or £1.33 a week.
Mr Lloyd has made extra officers the focus of his plans, despite concerns from councillors about his ability to recruit and retain staff. He claims Hertfordshire is on course to have 2,100 officers by March 2021 – the highest level in a decade. Numbers are then set to increase to 2,314 officers, the highest number ever, by the end of March 2023.
"This is a transformational budget for policing. In simple terms, there will be more officers on the streets of Hertfordshire," said Mr Lloyd.
"I represent the people of Hertfordshire, and when the people were asked if they supported an increase in the precept for this aim, they overwhelmingly [65%] gave their support. It is a collective investment from local taxpayers and central government towards giving Hertfordshire the largest constabulary we have ever had.
"Unlike other parts of the country, the boost in officers is not just replacing officers who were lost in recent cuts, as in Hertfordshire, even during the austerity times, police officers were maintained at broadly the same level.
"Now we are going to have a substantially larger force and it is vital that it is properly resourced. It is appropriate that local taxpayers make a contribution to this investment.
"The increase of the precept by £10 a year for the average council taxpayer will support the hundreds of extra officers for years to come. At £198 per annum, this still represents excellent value.
“They need to be provided with the very best equipment, training and facilities and to enable them to protect the public and keep crime low.”
Cllr Woodward said he wanted the commissioner to explore using Police Support Volunteers to increase the public's access to police stations. Currently, the front desk at Basbow Lane in Bishop's Stortford is shut to keep officers on the front line, but Cllr Woodward said the example of counters staffed by unpaid civilians, already a success in places like Abbotts Langley, should be explored as a means of restoring access.
Hertfordshire police officer numbers
More by this authorSinead Corr