THE Northumbria Police Commissioner is to raise her share of Council Tax bills.
Labour’s Vera Baird has announced a 3.5% hike in the police force’s share of the funding stream.
The move, equal to an extra £2.93 per year for a Band D property, comes despite North East councils freezing their household bill.
Ms Baird will also raid force reserves and take nearly £10m out of police bank accounts to try to safeguard policing.
Northumbria has already been forced to axe hundreds of posts and see its policing numbers reduced as part of £40m of cuts.
A further £29m of savings need to be found, with the commissioner warning some £12m of this is still be identified.
The precept will provide an extra £1.04m for policing in the next financial year. Another £9.4m will come from the force’s reserves.
Ms Baird said: “It is regrettable to put forward any increase at difficult economic times like this. “However, the Government has slashed Northumbria Police funding by 20% over four years, a loss of over £39m.
“And we cannot allow any further reduction in the force’s capacity to fight crime and protect its residents.
“As part of my statutory duty to carry out a public consultation before creating the Police and Crime Plan for Northumbria, I found that 75% of local people said that they would be prepared to pay as much as 10p per week more to protect the police service.
“Even with the increase I propose, the amount local residents pay towards their police force will continue to be the lowest of any area in England and Wales.”
The bill increase, announced late yesterday evening, was backed by police chief Sue Sim. She insisted that despite 335 Northumbria Police jobs going since 2010, frontline services had not been hit. Ms Sim said: “I gave my personal assurances that I would continue to deliver excellent policing services and to maintain the numbers of police officers and police community support officers working in our neighbourhoods.
“I am absolutely committed to continuing to deliver the services the public tell us they need and want. “
“We must ensure people living in Northumbria force area continue to receive the excellent policing service they are used to and deserve.”