Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson has warned without a proposed increase of £10 a year to Band D’s household policing precept, essential services at Wiltshire Police could be put at risk.

Residents are being asked to have their say on the £10 a year, or 83p a month,increase for the average household before the survey deadline expires but Mr Wilkinson wanted residents to be clear on what was at stake.

Without the increase, savings of £4M will need to be made across policing and victim services in Wiltshire to balance the books. With the vast majority of the county’s policing budget spent on staffing costs, the Commissioner cautioned that this could lead to a less visible policing presence.

Mr Wilkinson said: “This amount of savings would unquestionably have a significant impact and will lead to a reduction in service levels and that is not what anyone wants. In fact that is the one thing all residents are telling me they do want: a better service!

“Only by investing in our police service and allocating resources effectively can we address the root causes of crime, enforce the law and begin to make Wiltshire safer.

“I have heard loud and clear from residents that they want a better and improved service from both the police and wider criminal justice system with improved outcomes and more visibility.

“Even with an increase, the Chief Constable and I will still need to make cost-efficiency savings of nearly £1.4M but we can only deliver what you have asked for and rightly expect by increasing the precept.

“Without a precept increase, the gap widens to more than £4M.”

Wiltshire continues to have the lowest policing precept in the South West and even with the increase, the band D average for Wiltshire will remain lower than the regional and national average.

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s overall budget is roughly made up of 50% funding from central Government, and 50% from local council tax.

Mr Wilkinson added: “Wiltshire is the fourth lowest-funded force in the country and ensuring we get our fair share from the centre will always be top of my agenda. However, we also need to ensure the funding we do have is used efficiently and focused on the front line and delivery.

“I’m not ignorant of the fact that this year has been another incredibly tough one with the economic impact from the pandemic still being felt across our communities and I am conscious that any increase will be felt keenly. Unfortunately, I don’t see there being another choice but I am still keen to hear people’s views.”

The consultation is open until Wednesday 2 February and you can feedback via the online survey.