10:00am Friday 10th January 2014
By Tom Edwards
WEST Mercia Police needs to make a further £22 million of cuts by 2019 – with residents asked to foot some of the bill through council tax rises.
The force is already halfway through a plan to cut £20 million from spending between 2012 and 2016.
A further £21.8m of cuts are needed but a report from police and crime commissioner Bill Longmore added the precise figure is unlikely to be confirmed until after next year’s general election.
Mr Longmore also revealed he wants to increase the police element of the council tax precept by two per cent from April in a bid to raise an additional £1.7 million a year.
Because the force only gets around 10 per cent of the bill, it would add about £3.64 a year to the average band D payment.
He said: “Unfortunately the Government’s austerity measures mean that we need to save a further £21.8 million over the next five years.
“Income raised through council tax is a vital source of police funding – and, although I understand that times are difficult, asking people to pay more is something I need to consider in order to relieve the pressure on frontline policing.”
The bombshell means more job losses are likely, and comes after a cull which saw 140 frontline police officer jobs axed in 2012.
Of the original £20 million that needs to be saved by 2016, the force is halfway through, with £9.7 million remaining.
It has included the closure of several police bases around the region, including one at Worcester’s Guildhall and a shop front in Warndon.
Human resources, IT and vehicle costs are also being shared with Warwickshire Police under the alliance agreement, with work ongoing to pool more costs.
Ken MacKaill, chairman of the West Mercia Police Federation, said: “Over the last four years 400 police jobs have gone, we’ve lost so many.”
Barrie Sheldon, deputy police and crime commissioner, said: “In the current climate we’re looking at saving money anywhere we can.
“This organisation has been through huge change and the staff have responded magnificently, we’re doing all we can.”
It comes just days after Worcestershire County Council confirmed it wants to increase council tax 1.9 per cent, as well as Worcester City Council.
It means the average band D £1,453 bill in Worcester is expected to rise at least £26.
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