TWO hundred police jobs could be saved to ensure the Hampshire force provides a better service to the public.
That is one of a number of proposals put forward by the county’s new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Hayes in his four-year vision for the force.
Mr Hayes put a draft budget before the new police and crime panel last Friday – and at their inaugural meeting, the panel voted to set a rise in the police element of the council tax.
From April, residents will have to pay an extra 3.4 per cent towards policing in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – the equivalent of an extra £5 a year or 10p a week for those living in a Band D property.
Mr Hayes said the increase was needed to invest in the force, currently faced with saving £55million over four years, so that the county has enough manpower to ensure it stays a safe place to live and work.
So far, around £40m of savings have been identified and more than 1,000 police service posts have been lost.
The tax rise was passed after all but one panel member voted in favour, meaning the budget for 2013-14 will be £310.4m.
The plan to save jobs will not be ratified until March. If approved, it will mean the 999 call centre will be bolstered, although it won’t necessarily mean more officers on the streets.
Mr Hayes told the panel: “We would like to enable the constabulary to respond more speedily to calls and that means a call centre that has greater capability than it has now.”
Asked why he wanted to raise the council tax precept at a time when people are facing their own financial constraints, Mr Hayes said the force had been placed “under considerable strain” by the cuts and added: “We don’t believe the resilience of the police service as it is can continue for very much longer”.
John Apter, chairman of the county’s police federation, said: “During the past couple of years, we have seen police officer numbers slashed due to the budget cuts.
“This announcement gives me hope that more police officers will be available to support what is a very thin blue line.
“A well-resourced control room is essential to deliver great policing and I am pleased that the PCC recognises this.”