Police authority set to increase Council Tax

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SUFFOLK Police Authority could increase its share of Council Tax after its savings targets rocketed to more than £16 million.

Bosses say increasing the policing element of the 2012/13 bill by 3.75 per cent would generate £1.55 million and keep more than 1,200 officers in employment.

Chief Constable Simon Ash says he would be concerned if the constabulary’s strength fell below that figure.

Another option to be considered is to freeze Council Tax at 2011/12 levels and accept a one off £1.25 million government grant for one year.

However, the move would result in cuts in officer numbers and at least £1.6 million less in funding in the coming years.

Joanna Spicer, chairman of Suffolk Police Authority, said: “We recognise these are difficult times for everyone and want to do everything we can to keep costs down for Council Tax-payers across the country.

“Our role as an authority is to secure an efficient and effective policing service for the county, which already has one of the lowest cost forces in the country. We need to get that balance right.”

Savings the constabulary needs to make over the next four years have shot up from £13.6 million to more than £16 million due to ‘unforeseen national cost pressures’.

It has already cut £4.7 million in the last year after joining forces with Norfolk Constabulary.

Bosses anticipate an ‘extremely challenging’ year ahead with a series of operational commitments and more than £6 million in cuts.

Mrs Spicer added: “The budget setting process is particularly difficult this year. No decisions will be made until we have thoroughly examined all the financial scenarios in detail. It is clear that our decisions over the next few weeks will have major implications for policing.” A final decision will be made on February 20.