Plans to improve failing Cleveland Police could be hit unless council tax rises
A police boss has warned efforts to turn around his force would be put at risk without another council tax rise.
Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger plans to increase the precept on tax bills by 3.99% in April.
This equates to a £10 rise for a Band D property compared to last year – up to £260.54.
The force was rated inadequate in all areas by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services with efforts ongoing to turn things around.
Mr Coppinger said the priority was to ensure 2020 “marked a turning point” for the force and rapid improvements were implemented.
The Labour commissioner added: “In the current financial climate it is simply not an option to maintain the previous level of precept, if we want to see Cleveland Police recruit extra officers and make the significant improvements they need to.
“I’ve been encouraged by the green shoots of progress the force has started to make, including the launch of a new vulnerability strategy and the recruitment of new senior leaders, but there still is a long way to go.
“Failing to increase the precept at this crucial moment would result in cuts to services and the progress we have seen in recent months by the force being set back.”
Police council tax – what the 3.99% increase would mean
Band A – £173.69 (up £6.67)
Band D – £202.64 (up £7.78)
Band C – £231.59 (up £8.89)
Band D – £260.54 (up £10.00)
Band E – £318.44 (up £12.22)
Band F – £376.34 (up £14.44)
Band G – £434.23 (up £16.67)
Band H – £521.08 (up £20.00)
£10.4m funding boost
The increased precept charge is expected to be part of a £10.4m funding boost for the force which will allow it to recruit an additional 127 officers over the next year.
The Home Office says £143m will be spent on policing in the area in 2020/21, calling it the “biggest funding boost in a decade”.
But the force has faced tough financial conditions since the Conservatives entered number 10 Downing Street – losing more than 500 PCSOs and officers and £40m since 2010.
Mr Coppinger has called for funding cuts to be reversed for a number of years and believed this latest tax rise would allow the force to “maintain its current momentum”.
Stockton South MP Matt Vickers sits on the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel as vice-chairman.
The Conservative MP has been critical of previous office spending by the commissioner.
He was pleased about the funding boost but wanted it to be “spent properly”.
Mr Vickers said: “It’s great to have more funding but extremely important that this extra investment is spent properly and efficiently, putting more police officers on our streets with the right resources and equipment they need.
“This hasn’t always been the case in Cleveland.
“Having recently spent a night shift with our front-line police officers, I can tell you they are among the best in the country but few would argue that they haven’t been let down by the force leadership in recent years.
“This funding must be spent putting more well resourced officers on our streets with the equipment and resources they deserve.”
The precept proposals will go before the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel on February 4.