MORE than £16 million is to be raised for Hampshire’s police force, after civic chiefs unanimously voted through plans to increase the county’s precept tax.

Police and crime commissioner Michael Lane confirmed this will allow the force to recruit an extra 200 officers, 65 investigators and an unconfirmed amount of PCSOs.

However, this means that locals will now have to pay an extra £24 a year, for a Band D home, for the 2019/20 financial year.

“This is an opportunity to protect local policing services,” said Mr Lane, who confirmed that 76.38 per cent of the 6,659 people that undertook the consultation supported the increase.

He added that the force was currently facing a £14 million funding shortfall, and if the increase was instead halved to £12 a year, 150 current staff would need to be let go.

Mr Lane said: “There is only one option if we’re to keep our communities and residents safer.

“This increase will raise £16 million of additional funding.

“Policing in Hampshire is under significant financial pressure. We are underfunded by £14 million compared to the standard force, despite being one of the biggest forces in the country.

“All the additional money raised will go to protecting local policing.”

However, during the meeting on Friday, members of the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel also raised concern that this extra cash was being lumped on the local taxpayer, instead of coming from government.

Gosport borough councillor John Beavis said: “This local tax is to cover government funding shortfalls.

“A 13 per cent increase to local taxation is a significant amount above the rate of inflation.”

Havant councillor Gary Hughes added: “You have the goodwill of the people [in support of the increase], but I would raise caution that if you continue this year on year rise, this goodwill will be lost.”

Mr Lane confirmed he was not looking to bring in another rise in 2020/21,

The plans were agreed by all 18 members of the panel.

As reported the increase comes as part of the new national budget allowance, which was unveiled by Nick Hurd, minister for policing, at the end of last year.

He announced that force’s across the country would get a slice of £970 million in extra cash from 2019/20 – with £500 million of this coming from increased precept rates.

This will see the budget increased to £14 billion.

Breaking down the £970 million of national funding, £161 million will come from Government grants, with a further £150 million will be available to pay into police pension pots.

An extra £59 million will be given towards counter-terror policing and £90 million is being made available to tackle economic and cyber crime, as well as child sexual exploitation.