Councillors have approved a 5.9% increase in the Lincolnshire police council tax precept.
The Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel gave the go ahead to Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones’ budget on Friday.
Force bosses say the rise, which will bring in £2.9 million additional funding, will enable them to recruit a further 60 officers next year.
The increase equates to £251.37 a year for the average band D properties in the county – around £14.94 a week.
Chris Haward, who replaced Bill Skelly as Chief Constable in December last year, said: “The importance of this decision today is a question of how we prioritise our resources and how we might use them.
“The point about the cost per head of population is Lincolnshire being the lowest in the UK, and continues to be the lowest over several years.
“If we look at those others who are at the bottom, they actually levy the council tax probably a little more liberally than we have done here in Lincolnshire and I think the approach we’re talking about here is a sensible one.”
He said it would help relieve some of the pressures and demand on officers – particularly in the face of recent figures which revealed that 85% have reported, mental health, anxiety and stress related illness this year.
He added the measures proposed would stop him “having to make some really difficult choices.”
The government’s financial grant settlement for police will also see an additional £4.1 million coming to the force.
The extra recruitment will be in addition to 54 new officer posts already planned.
In total, bosses say they will have 120 officers next year extra to what they were originally expecting.
Mr Jones said that without the extra cash the number would instead have been a reduction due to an inability to afford replacement officers.
“When you’re a force that’s at the bottom of the spending pile, the fact is that over a number of years we’ve made savings and continue to do so, but the more you do, the more you’re spending is a high percentage of people.
“So you get to the point that the only way you make significant savings is to reduce the number of people you employ.
“However, we’re at a time now where we’re in growth. We’ve got a national uplift programme for the number of officers and therefore, to plan to have fewer members of staff to support them isn’t that realistic.
“So I think we are in a very different position now to where we’ve been in the last few years.”
A list of new projects have been identified by Chief Constable Chris Haward and Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones to help improve community safety. They include:
- A new team dedicated to fighting crime and saving lives on the county’s roads
- The establishment of specialist teams to drive down community crime in both rural and urban areas
- More tasers for frontline officers
- An increase in armed response units to tackle violent crime
- Investment in new technology to give better public access
A recent annual survey by the PCC was completed by 3,243 people a number. Mr Jones said was “heartening” when considering people may have other things on their mind with the COVID-19 pandemic and the survey being carried out pre-Christmas.
Around 87% agreed they were prepared to pay more council tax. 77% of people said they were prepared to pay 10% more.
More than a third said they were willing to pay a 20% increase.