Police precept frozen

POLICE authorities have announced that they will not be increasing their council tax precepts despite facing their “most diffucult” budgets.

Members of Cleveland Police Authority and Durham Police Authority have agreed their spending plans for the upcoming financial year amid Government cuts.

But the amount they charge taxpayers will stay the same for 2011-12, despite both forces being made to make major savings.

Cleveland Police has to make savings of £12m and Durham Constabulary £10m, but by freezing their precept each will receive £727,000 a year for the next four years from the Government.

Councillor Dave McLuckie, chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, said: “This has probably been the most difficult budget process ever faced by the authority and the force.”

He added that through savings made by a partnership with Steria, which provides back office roles previously undertaken by police officers, and changes in overtime, bank holiday staffing, PCSO shift patterns, reduction in executive and authority staff posts and reduced spending on uniforms, the “front-line” will be protected.

Durham’s authority said it has achieved its spending target by establishing a new model for service delivery across the force area, a recruitment freeze of both officer and staff posts and a “root and branch” review of non-staffing budgets.

Peter Thompson, chairman of the authority, added: “The authority and its police force has looked at a range of measures aimed at cutting costs and increasing productivity. I am pleased that the resulting savings have allowed police authority members to freeze the police part of the council tax for 2011/2012, helping to ease the financial burden for council taxpayers within County Durham.”