Members of the Lincolnshire police panel have approved plans for residents to pay almost £24 extra on their tax bill towards the county’s force.
The Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel gave the go-ahead to the plans, which will bring in an extra £5,495,000 for 2018/19.
The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones is looking to raise his part of the council tax precept by 11 per cent – £23.94 for a Band D property.
However, he told councillors the rise will not bridge the funding gap for 2019/20 and warned that further reductions of officer numbers will be required to balance the budget.
Panel members queried the number of officer reductions, the impact on rural crime and where else savings could be made.
“We were never going to be able to balance the budget on council tax alone,” he said, but the rise would pay for specific projects which would aim to free up officers’ time – including the Minipolice, Drones, Command and Control Systems, Mobile Tech and a new neighbourhood policing model.
He also revealed a Home Office grant had been applied for to help with recruitment, but that no response had yet been received.
“I don’t accept [residents] will get less,” he added, saying that spending money wisely would equate to the same service.
He told the panel how mobile devices “freed up 1.2 hours per officer per day”.
“That’s 40 extra officers that we magicked up without paying for them,” he said.
Speaking following the meeting, Mr Jones said: “What we can’t do today is guarantee that they (officer numbers) will be maintained or increased because there’s a separate process that we’re undergoing to apply for a grant from the Home Office. If we get the go-ahead that will be where that additional recruitment will come from.
“What we’ll be using the council tax for is a very specific project delivery which will ultimately lead to reductions in crime, keeping them safer and making sure police can turn up in a timely way with the right kit.
“There will be a number of areas where the public will see improvements but I’m confident we can maintain the levels of service even if there is a slight reduction in the headcount of people doing that just because we’re investing in the right things.”
A report before the panel said that £1 million of reserves and £3.2 million budget savings will still be required to start addressing a potential gap of £6.9 million by 2022/23.
The budget will include £900,000 for victims’ services, £600,000 for crime and disorder reduction grants, a total of £56.4 million will be spent on police officer salaries and £3.2 million on PCSO salaries.
By 2022/23 the force is set to target a workforce of 1,100 officers.
The PCC’s report says that he would currently be targeting a two per cent council tax rise next year.