Council tax cuts could ‘jeopardise’ police force, says union

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire
David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire

Police staff in Hertfordshire have warned that a proposed tax cut could ‘jeopardise’ the force.

In a surprise move, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd put forward proposals to cut the police’s portion of next year’s council tax bill.

In an official statement, a spokesman for Herts Police branch of UNISON said: “We are shocked at the announcement, because the force is 
already cut to the bone.

“We are amazed that Mr Lloyd has taken this decision in the current climate of the constabulary continuing to need to make savings.

“Police staff have played a huge part in these savings through redundancies, down grading of salaries, and the removal of London Weighting.

“We are now starting to see the effects of pay freezes and stagnant salaries, as police staff posts are becoming harder to recruit to.”

In 2009/10, the policing precept for a Band D property was £142.82, before it increased by 3.5 per cent to £147.82 in 2010/11 – remaining there ever since.

UNISON says Herts Police have saved a lot of cash through ‘prudent financial planning’ and collaboration with forces in both Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

But the subsequent pay freezes, redundancies and custody suite closures have all had an impact on the force.

Recently, officer numbers have been slashed from 2,100 to 1,950 and staff numbers cut from 1,729 to 1,487.

The UNISON spokesman said: “In this day and age we find it deplorable that Mr Lloyd is unable to offer a guarantee that these growing areas of concern are receiving a vital growth in their budget.

“We accept that Hertfordshire is in a slightly better position that other forces, but we would not want to see this good work jeopardised by 
risking a drop in funding.”

In his original statement, Mr Lloyd said: “I do not believe it is fair to ask for more money than I asked for last year from hard working taxpayers.

“The public sector must reduce its costs and policing must play its part.”