TASKED with maintaining an effective police force in the face of continuing cuts to the budget, Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy is looking to increase council tax to help cover the costs.
Speaking at an event at Asda in St Helens, she asked people if they were prepared to pay a 1.95 per cent increase in the police precept through the council tax.
The majority of people she stopped agreed with the proposals, saying the police did a good job with dwindling resources, however many believed they already paid enough through tax.
She said: “What the force has done is to ask each commander to review services and see how we can continue to deliver good policing services but with fewer people.
“What I’m afraid you will see is 18 fewer PCOs because the council is not able to fund them. They used to give a subsidy to pay for them and now we have lost that.
“The force is determined to relentlessly pursue criminals and work hard with St Helens Council to keep the community safe.
“We are safe compared to other urban areas. St Helens remains a good place to live, have a home and do business.
“The force is committed to do all it can to work with the council to make sure we keep it so.”
James Kays from Eccleston said he doesn’t mind paying more for police.
He said: “When you consider all the charges for gas, water rates, bedroom tax and electricity are going up, the police are doing a good job.”
Merseyside Police’s main grant from the government has been cut by 4.8 per cent this year, which is around £12 million. It is estimated that by 2018 the police force will have had to make total savings of more than £110 million since austerity measures began in 2010.
Mrs Kennedy is planning to use around £5 million from reserves to reduce the impact of the cuts, but says without asking people to pay more it will be impossible to fully protect frontline police services.
The proposed increase would amount to 4p a week or £2 a year for a band A household or £3 for band D. The majority of homes on Merseyside fall into the band A category.
Following similar events across Merseyside three-quarters of those who responded supported her proposals.
More than 2,000 people took part in the consultation, with 25 per cent saying they weren’t prepared to pay more.
Jane Kennedy said: “This consultation demonstrates beyond doubt that people on Merseyside are prepared to play their part to protect their neighbourhoods.
“This increase in the police precept is essential if I am to protect frontline police services. Without raising additional money from the public further cuts to police officer numbers and services would be inevitable.”