Today (5 January), PCC Angus Macpherson has launched a survey to collect feedback on policing: what is being done well and where improvements could be made, as well as a proposed increase in the policing element of the council tax.
The suggested increase equates to £15 a year, per household, on a band D property.
This follows a recent national announcement made about central police funding which was based upon the assumption that all PCCs would seek to use the maximum flexibility afforded them by the Government to increase local precepts.
In 2020, Wiltshire recorded the lowest policing precept in the South West. Even with the increase, the band D average for Wiltshire will remain lower than the regional and national average.
And Mr Macpherson warned that if the policing part of the precept is not increased next year, Wiltshire Police would need to find savings of more than £3m and would have no alternative but to reduce staff undertaking essential services.
“In normal times an increase in contributions will be felt by our communities but after this year, I realise this increase will be felt more keenly than ever before,” added Mr Macpherson.
“The pandemic has bought additional new challenges for all – it is evident the effect impacts all corners of our community. As well as the physical impact, I know the economic impact has affected many.
“The decision to ask for your support for a £15 per year increase has been a difficult one – and one that I would not make if there was an alternative. But there isn’t.
“Simply put, your agreement to this increase will mean Wiltshire Police will be able to continue to maintain and improve our essential, frontline, services.”
The extra £15 a year funding, or £1.25 a month, means that Wiltshire Police will recruit 46 additional officers for Wiltshire in 2021/22. The Force is also on track to recruit this year’s target of an additional 65 police officers by March 2021.
This will take officer numbers to 1,050 – the highest number of Wiltshire Police officers in six years. The additional 46 officers in 2021/22 would see officer numbers rise to 1,096 by March 2022.
Mr Macpherson added: “We need to keep up the investment in order to continue with progress. We are the lowest-funded Force in the South West and I believe Wiltshire Police is delivering significant value for money.
“Our police service does a tremendous job, against ever-changing demand, in keeping crime low and providing the service you demand from your police service.”
The consultation is open from Tuesday 5 January to Tuesday 2 February.
Further information can be found in the PCCs 2021 Policing Precept video.