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Merseyside public back PCC's plan to protect police services

Liverpool / February 04

Three-quarters of respondents to a public consultation have supported the Commissioner’s proposals to protect police funding in the face of devastating government cuts.

 Three-quarters of respondents to a public consultation have supported the Commissioner’s proposals to protect police funding in the face of devastating government cuts.

More than 2,000 people took part in the consultation undertaken by Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, to find out whether residents would be prepared to contribute extra to the region’s policing budget.

Merseyside Police's main grant from the government has been cut by 4.8% this year – a reduction of about £12m. It is estimated that by 2018 the Force will have to make total savings of more than £100m since austerity measures began in 2010.

The Commissioner’s consultation – the results of an online survey and a series of community road shows - revealed that 75% of people were happy to back the Commissioner’s plans to increase the Police Precept by 1.95%, with just 25% of the public saying they were not prepared to pay slightly more.

The increase amounts to 4p a week, or £2 a year, for a Band A household or £3 for a Band D property. The majority of homes on Merseyside fall into the Band A category.

Even after this small increase, the police element of Council Tax bills on Merseyside will still be among the lowest in the country.

The Commissioner will present her proposed budget to the Police and Crime Panel tomorrow (Tuesday, February 4th) for consideration and approval. She is also planning to use £5.5m from reserves to balance the budget in 2014/15.

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.

“Merseyside Police has transformed the way it is providing its services and is doing everything it can to work as efficiently as possible. More than 1,200 officers, PCSOs and staff will have been lost from Merseyside Police by the end of 2014/15 as the Force struggles to cope with the on-going programme of austerity.

“The reality is that if these cuts continue, Merseyside Police will simply not be able to continue to deliver the services it currently provides to keep our communities safe.”

During the consultation, the Commissioner held public events in each Basic Command Unit in order to hear the views of many people as possible. She also conducted an online survey on her website. A total of 1,511 said they would be happy to pay the small increase in the Police Precept, while 511 said they did not think it was reasonable to ask tax payers to pay extra for police services.

Read why Merseyside has been hit particularly hard by government cuts