A TAX hike to help pay for new police officers in Cleveland has been backed unanimously by a police panel.
A 3.99 per cent precept increase was agreed by the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel which will see Band D properties pay an extra £10 on their bills.
Ahead of the meeting, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger had warned the force’s recovery could be put at risk if it didn’t increase bills.
All councillors backed the move as efforts to bring more than 120 officers to the force in the coming months take shape.
Breakdown of bill changes for police
Band A – £173.69 (up £6.67)
Band D – £202.64 (up £7.78)
Band C – £231.59 (up £8.89)
Band D – £260.54 (up £10.00)
Band E – £318.44 (up £12.22)
Band F – £376.34 (up £14.44)
Band G – £434.23 (up £16.67)
Band H – £521.08 (up £20.00)
The tax rise is set to bring an extra £1.6m to the force in April.
The panel was told how the government hadn’t given the force a lot of time to crunch the numbers – only revealing the police settlement a fortnight ago.
But a short consultation revealed 64 per cent of people who responded backed the tax increase.
Mr Coppinger said the £1.6m was “not an inconsiderable amount of money” and would be used to deploy and recruit more officers.
He added: “Obviously, there has been a recognition after ten years of austerity that we need to invest in policing. In Autumn this year, the Prime Minister advised there would be additional officers into Cleveland with 72 brought in.
“We realised straight away we need to grab that with month hands to accelerate the number of officers.”
The force was rated inadequate in all areas by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services with efforts ongoing to turn things around.
Chairwoman Cllr Norma Stephenson said the majority of properties in Stockton were in Band A – meaning rises would be less than £10 for most people.
The extra money raised will go towards a £10.4m funding boost for the force announced by the Home Office last month.
But the force faced choppy waters in the past decade – losing more than 500 PCSOs and officers and £40m since 2010.
The panel was told the government’s announcement of 20,000 extra officers last year would bring 200 extra PCs to Cleveland in all.