FOR the second year running Dorset households face the maximum hike possible in the amount they pay to fund the county’s police force in their council tax bill.
Members of the Dorset Police and Crime Panel unanimously approved a 6.2% rise – or £15 increase – to the Dorset Police portion of the bill for a band D equivalent home for 2021/22.
That equates to £1.25 a month and makes the total annual bill for such a household £255.58 per year to cover the force.
It had been proposed by Dorset police and crime commissioner (PCC) Martyn Underhill and is the maximum that can be applied under government regulations. Mr Underhill also raised the amount by £10 for 2020/21 – the highest amount possible at that time.
Justifying the move, police chiefs highlighted the impact of the coronavirus on the force and a survey carried out by the PCC.
It asked residents if they would be prepared to pay more towards the county force and there were 4,053 responses: 77% agreed Dorset Police required additional funding and 67% claimed they would be willing to pay the £15 increase.
“Despite today’s decision being good news for Dorset Police, I remain immensely disappointed that yet again, I’ve had to go out cap in hand to ask for money from already hard pressed council tax payers,” Mr Underhill said.
“There still remain serious unanswered questions about the government’s funding strategy for policing,” he continued – adding he would “continue to press the case for a better and fairer system than the current model”, which he said was disadvantageous to smaller forces such as Dorset.
Mr Underhill highlighted Dorset Police is predicting it will recruit an additional 64 new officers by the end of March as part of the government’s three-year uplift programme to get more police on the beat.
“I’d like to thank the panel for approving these plans, but more importantly I’d like to thank the county’s residents for their continued support, particularly during a time when I know many people are worried about their own finances,” Mr Underhill added.
“The last year has been unlike anything I have known throughout my career in policing, with officers and frontline staff placing themselves on the frontline in the ongoing war against coronavirus.
“This funding will ensure the force remains in a strong position to continue its excellent work of keeping people safe while also being able to evolve to meet new threats head on.”