A police boss is asking residents how much they are prepared to pay to make up for the ‘woeful’ cash settlement from the Government.
David Keane, the police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, says the force faces a £5million shortfall - the equivalent of losing 100 police officers from the county - as a result of reduced spending from the Government.
He has launched a consultation outlining the financial challenges faced by the force over the next financial year, and inviting residents to have their say on a potential increase of the police precept - a precept levied on annual council tax bills.
He said: “The police budget in Cheshire has endured more than £60 million worth of government funding cuts since 2010, which means the force is spending 37 per cent less on policing, in real terms, than it was eight years ago.
“With inflation rising and public sector pay increases on the horizon, maintaining Government grant flat-cash funding for police services at the same levels for the next financial year means, in real terms, a cut of around five million pounds to the Cheshire police budget.
“This five million pound shortfall is equivalent to losing 100 police officers from Cheshire’s communities, that’s in addition to dealing with new and growing threats such as rising crime levels, cybercrime and terrorism.”
He said that there are few further efficiency savings to be made within the force, which has included ditching company cars and cutting top salaries. He added that the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, which costs less than half of one percent of overall police spend, is the second lowest cost PCC in the country.
He said: “Like many police forces across the country we have done all we can to deal with these financial challenges, and there are very few further efficiency savings that we can make to help find this money.
“There is now a danger that the already overstretched thin blue line will be at breaking point unless we act. As a result of the woeful settlement from Government, to plug the funding gap and to support community policing, I need to consider the options we have as a community to raise money locally via the council tax precept.”
The consultation launched online on Monday and will run for three weeks. To comment go to www.cheshire-pcc.gov.uk .