WIRRAL people may be forced to pay more towards Merseyside’s frontline policing in the face of “savage” funding cuts.
Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner is urging people to have their say on how she pays for the police, as she proposes a 1.95% increase in the police precept.
More than 1,200 officers, PCSOs and staff will have been lost from Merseyside Police by the end of 2014/15 due to budget cuts.
And with a further £13.5m needing to be cut from the force’s budget in the coming financial year, and a predicted further slash of £17m in 2015/16, police and crime commissioner Jane Kennedy has to find other means to keep enough officers on the streets.
Ms Kennedy is already planning to use close to £5.5m from reserves to reduce the impact of such cuts but without asking people to pay more, she says it will be impossible for her to protect those vital frontline police services.
The money collected from the public on Merseyside funds just 17% of the policing budget, with the other 83% coming from government grants.
Increasing the police precept – which forms part of the whole council tax bill – by 1.95% would equate to 4p a week or £2 a year for a Band A property, increasing the cost from £102.42 to £104.42.
For a Band D property, it would mean paying an additional £3 a year.
Ms Kennedy said: “Due to the persistently unfair funding cuts that have been inflicted upon Merseyside Police by the Government, I need to increase the amount of council tax collected in the region to minimise the impact of these savage cuts on vital frontline policing services.
“I know times are extremely challenging for people on Merseyside at the moment and every penny counts, but this increase is essential if the Chief Constable is to keep enough officers on the streets of Merseyside to protect the public.
“Without raising additional money from the council tax precept, cuts to both officer numbers and the services would be inevitable.”
The commissioner is seeking the views of people across Merseyside on the proposals and is holding a series of road shows to ask their opinion.
The six community events, one in each Force Basic Command Unit, will ask people if they agree with the proposed increase.
Ms Kenned added: “Asking people to pay more is an action that is being forced upon me by the Government, but it is a wholly necessary step if I am to relieve the pressure on frontline policing and maintain the high level of service which the force prides itself on.
“My priority is to balance the needs of families across Merseyside with the needs of protecting our police service.
“The Chief Constable and I are committed to putting the public first as we continue to keep Merseyside safe.”
Wirral people will be able to have their say on the proposals at Asda, Grange Road, Birkenhead this Wednesday, January 29, from 11.30am until 1.30pm.
Other roadshows will also take place in Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Knowsley throughout the week.