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Cumbria's police commissioner pushes ahead with council tax increase

Cumbria's crime chief is to increase the police's part of the council tax bill vowing: I am not willing to let the criminals take over.

Richard Rhodes photo
Richard Rhodes

Related: Richard Rhodes' statement in full

Related: Chief Constable's letter to Mr Rhodes

Crime commissioner Richard Rhodes has today pushed through a 1.93 per cent rise, from April 1.

That is despite the county's Police and Crime Panel, which scrutinises his work, last week vetoing the increase by eight votes to three. It had also previously said no to a 1.99 per cent rise.

Mr Rhodes said he would levy the extra cash after considering "evidence" put forward by temporary Chief Constable Bernard Lawson and listening to what service people wanted and expected.

It amounts to a rise of less than 8p per household per week - £3.96 per year for a band D property. Not increasing the tax would mean a further £2 million cut in the police's budget over the next four years, he added.

“I am not willing to let the criminals take over. I am not willing to let our police service move to ‘special measures’ as some public sector organisations have experienced.

"I am not willing for Cumbria Constabulary to merge with another police force and see a further withdrawal of emergency services or resources from the county.

“I want the people of Cumbria to be safe and protected where possible from harm. I want the people of Cumbria to have a police service that is there for them when they need it. I want the Chief Constable to have the operational capacity to keep fighting crime in this county.

"As a result of further reflection and the strong advice from the Chief Constable I am not willing to compromise the police service to the people of Cumbria and take the view that the policing part of the council tax precept should be increased by £3.96 a year," he said.

Mr Rhodes said savings totalling £14m had already been made to the force's running costs and a further £10m has to be cut by 2017.

Temporary chief constable Bernard Lawson said he welcomed the commissioner's decision, particularly as crime was on the increase.

“These are particularly challenging times for policing in the county, this increase is an important element in supporting frontline community policing and enhancing public safety in both the short and long term,” he added.

Have your say

Mark, I did not work that out as the 1% pay rise was a fact. I never said it was the police, I said it was the employees of Cumbria Constabulary, which is the police but also police staff. Your 'maths' theory would not be correct when it is also a fact that the employees would have gone up increments on their scales still. Your sweeping statement of factory workers being paid more than people in the services is not factually correct.

Posted by Mark on 14 March 2014 at 09:56

Crime is on the increase in Cumbria as the Chief Constable points out, the reason being the reduction in resources available within the Constabulary which are the effect of budget cuts. If there is to be further cuts of £10m by 2017 what difference is an increase in the polices part of the council tax bill going to make? It looks as if the local taxpayers are subsidizing the police budget cuts. What is criminal is the way Mr Rhodes seems to have become unaccountable for his decisions and has ridden roughshod over the County's Police and Crime Panel. Perhaps there is a need to go to 'special measures' to scrutinize his actions and the management of Cumbria Constabulary.

Posted by BigH on 5 March 2014 at 01:28

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