The cost of policing for the average householder across the region is set to increase by 17p a week – which the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner says will help pay for an extra 43 staff.
According to Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, the increase will also safeguard the posts of 15 constables.
Mr Jones says the planned increase of 3.58% will be the lowest of all the four forces in Wales and will be among the lowest of the 43 constabularies across both England and Wales. Last year’s documents had an increase of 2.5% pencilled in for this year and next.
The new increase of 3.58% will see Band D householders pay under £5 a week, or just under £260 a year, in council tax towards policing.
The decision to increase the police precept comes in the wake of a standstill policing grant of £71.7 million for the force for 2018-2019 announced recently by the UK Government.
It was the first time the grant hasn’t been cut in six years but, with inflation at 3%, the PCC says this amounts to a real terms cut of £2.15 million in the grant.
Last week the police and crime commissioner urged people across the region to take part in a survey and have their say on how much they would be willing to pay to fund the cost of policing in North Wales.
Mr Jones said: “We live in challenging times and that is true of policing as well as other public services”.
“The level of the precept is crucial to the effectiveness of the force in keeping North Wales a safe place to live, work and visit and setting it is one of my principal responsibilities.
“Policing budgets have been under pressure for a number of years and this will certainly continue to be the case with over £7 million further cuts to the budget due by 2020.
“I had discussions with the Chief Constable in December about his plans and the level of budget he requires to implement the priorities in my Police and Crime Plan and we have assessed that an increase of 3.58% would be sufficient to deliver his plans.”
“Last year we employed an additional 46 new people and this year we will employ 43 more, many of whom will free more officers for frontline duties”
Mr Jones added: “Policing is under great pressure from new demands being placed upon it – the frontline is now often online and we have to deploy our resources accordingly.
“Despite these increased demands there remains uncertainty over what North Wales Police will receive in the years to come but the need to meet these spending challenges has to be balanced by the recognition that many people find it difficult to find even a small amount of additional money.
“My reserves are in a stable and healthy position, and therefore I have decided to increase council tax only in order to fund the coming year’s expenditure, and to deal with the effect of further reductions in government grant if and when this should occur.”
Last time around the North Wales Police and Crime Panel voted to defer debate on last years 17p a week increase, as they said they had not seen the PCC’s Crime Plan – a move blasted by Arfon Jones as ‘dictatorial’, saying it was the ‘tail wagging the dog’.
The Commissioner’s proposal will go before a meeting of the Panel a week today on Monday 22nd January.