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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Cumbria crime commissioner proposes council tax rise to maintain police numbers

Cumbria's crime commissioner was today poised to recommend a rise in the police part of council tax to maintain officer numbers at the county’s cash-strapped force.

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Richard Rhodes: Important to allow time

Richard Rhodes is proposing a 1.95 per cent increase for the next financial year, which he says would aim to keep the total number of county bobbies at 1,134 until 2015.

He was due to present this proposal at the inaugural meeting today of Cumbria’s police and crime panel, which will scrutinise the work of the commissioner.

Rhodes was elected to the new role last month, which gives him power to hire and fire chief constables, set policing priorities and force budgets. A report to the panel states the rise will aim to “ensure the resources available can secure an effective police force for the residents of Cumbria”.

It adds that the rise would see the bill for policing for a band D household rise by £3.87 to £204.

The report says that, assuming there are no Government funding losses beyond those forecast, “the proposal will retain police officers at 1,134 and community support office numbers at 95 to the end of 2014/15”.

Mr Rhodes’ post replaced Cumbria Police Authority, which previously oversaw the work of the force.

Figures drawn up under the authority, revealed in the report, predicted a need for a drop in officer numbers beyond this date, saying they could fall to 1,070 by 2017 to save £3.4m.

But Mr Rhodes told the News & Star: “The numbers were the numbers targeted by the old police authority.

“I hope we won’t need to get to that stage. Certainly for this year, almost certainly for next year numbers will not drop at all.”

Officer numbers have fallen and civilian posts been axed in the wake of spending cuts after police chiefs were set the task of saving millions of pounds.

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