North Yorks residents shoulder high proportion of police force bills

Thursday, 1 February 2024 21:56

By Stuart Minting, Local Democracy Reporter

North Yorkshire's Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, Zoe Metcalfe.

North Yorkshire residents look set to be charged millions of pounds extra for the area’s police service from April, leaving average council taxpayers more than £100 worse off than their counterparts in other parts of the country.

The county’s police, fire and crime commissioner Zoe Metcalfe has proposed council taxpayers pay 3.99 per cent, or on average £11.77 more than last year, to raise almost £4m and help cover inflationary pressures.

If approved by the area’s police, fire and crime panel on Monday, a report by the commissioner states through council tax residents will face average bills for the force of £308.86 from April, covering some 46 per cent of North Yorkshire Police’s cost.

The document highlights how across the county residents fund just 34 per cent of their police forces budgets.

However, the report also revealed how residents in Northumberland pay just 19 per cent of their force’s cost. Last year average residents paid £168.84 to Northumbria Police – almost half of what North Yorkshire residents will be obliged to pay.

Conversely, residents in Surrey, where the force has 54.6 per cent of its funding coming from council tax, paid £310.57 last year.

The report states the proposed police budget also includes investment of £2m in specialist safeguarding teams to safeguard the most vulnerable and £1m for investigation teams to mitigate risks to vulnerable people.

It also outlines further investment into the Force Control Room of £1m to further enhance the service to the public and other investments into the Digital Forensics Unit, Professional Standards Unit, Neighbourhoods and Criminal Justice of over £1m.

The report stated although North Yorkshire Police has a budget of £201m, to provide a similar level of service to now, the force forecasts needing around an extra £12m due to salary increases and the rising cost of fuel, utilities and general cost increases.

The Government are expected to say the commissioner can raise the police precept by £15 from April – that would be an increase of 5.1 per cent, an extra 29 pence per week for an average Band D property, which would only raise £4.7m of the extra needed.

Ahead of the meeting, the panel’s chairman Councillor Carl Les said the government needed to review funding levels for all local government services, including police and fire.

He said: “It would be good if there was a level playing field across the country, but over time the equation of the principal sources of revenue in different parts of the country has become skewed.

“Although it would be difficult to realign it, I think it is something a government should try to do. It’s not just about policing, or the fire service, this is an issue in local government too.

“It would be good if the government could get round to doing the fair funding review.”

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