POLICE chiefs in the Thames Valley can expect nearly £9m of 'much-needed' extra funding for crime prevention - but only if council tax is raised.

The Home Secretary Sajid Javid this week announced a nationwide increase in police funding of more than £900m, but £500m will be raised through council tax.

According to the Thames Valley Police (TVP) Police and Crime Commissioner's (PCC) Office, £8.6m – alongside costs for pensions, pay and other expenses – will filter down to the region for 'operational policing'.

But that figure will only be raised if PCC Anthony Stansfeld raises council tax by £24 for a band D property. Mr Stansfeld says that proposal will be put be consulted on over the Christmas period.

He explained: “The funding settlement announced by the Government recognises the increasing demand on the police, and particularly on forces such as Thames Valley.

“I have lobbied the Government for a much-needed increase in police funding and so I am pleased that the Government has announced that an additional £813m will be available nationally to Police and Crime Commissioners to fund local police forces. However, it must be recognised that more than half of this funding (£509m) is expected to come from local taxpayers by increasing the police portion of the Council Tax.

“Demand on police forces has risen significantly in the last year as a result of changing crime. There has been a major increase in the reporting of high harm and previously hidden crimes such as child sexual abuse and modern slavery and the challenge from serious and organised crime networks is growing. In addition the police are dealing with a large amounts of non-crime business, especially in relation to mental health. Nationally there has also been a spike in serious violence and knife crime."

TVP has a yearly budget of nearly £400m.

Ahead of Mr Javid's announcement this week, community safety lead Tom Hayes wrote directly to him asking for more funds and accusing the government of 'side-stepping' its responsibility' and 'kicking police in the teeth'.

The Labour city councillor and police and crime panel member, wrote: "I have grave concerns about the continued underfunding of frontline policing and your reported plans to force taxpayers to shoulder the extra burden.

"When residents ask what they’re going to get for paying an extra £24, councillors will have to tell them: nothing. The monies raised may, at best, enable the police to stave off a deeper cut at the time they need extra investment. But TVP has had to slash millions since 2010, resulting in fewer officers, crime going up, and our safety paying the price."

Nationwide, police forces have seen their funding cut by around a third in real terms since 2010, with the number of officers falling by 21,000.

Mr Stansfeld continued: “My focus will continue to be on delivering strong neighbourhood policing for all of the communities across the Thames Valley. This additional funding will allow us to avoid what would otherwise have been unacceptable reductions in resources and to invest in ensuring Thames Valley Police continue to protect our communities.

“I will be sitting down with the Chief Constable over the next few days to consider how best to utilise this additional funding. There are significant competing demands and we will discuss the best way to invest this additional money in order to deliver the best possible operational policing. There will always be some inescapable cost pressures such as pay and price increases, and additional pension costs, but I want to ensure we provide additional funding for areas such as front-line police officers, improved call-handling (responding to 101 calls) and investigative capability.

“I will be running a public consultation exercise over the Christmas period to gather local council taxpayer views on the proposed increase in the police portion of the council tax of £24 for a Band D property. This increase will enable me to protect many of the vital functions that may otherwise have been reduced, and ensure that Thames Valley Police has more resources to tackle crime and keep the public safe.”

*** IN FULL: Tom Hayes' letter to Sajid Javid ***

Dear Secretary of State,

I am writing to you as a member of the Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel, which has the role of scrutinising the elected Police and Crime Commissioner, and as Oxford City Council’s Executive Board member for a Safer and Greener Environment. I have grave concerns about the continued underfunding of frontline policing and your reported plans to force taxpayers to shoulder the extra burden for funding the police. We need the Government to turn the tide on austerity and give our cash-strapped police an early Christmas present.

How much residents pay Thames Valley Police in council tax could double in 2019, according to your reported funding settlement. It has been reported that millions will suffer a council tax rise next year to pay for the extra costs of our overstretched forces. Households up and down the country may have to pay an extra £24 next year on top of the normal council tax rise.

When residents across the Thames Valley ask what they’re going to see get better for paying an extra £24 on council tax, their councillors will have to tell them: nothing. The monies raised may, at best, enable the police to stave off a deeper cut at the very time that they need extra investment. But, Thames Valley Police has had to slash millions from its budget since 2010, already resulting in fewer officers on the beat, crime going up, and our safety paying the price.

Moreover, the Government has announced uncosted plans for forces to increase the amount they contribute to officers' pensions. I am concerned that the Government may be asking our tax payers to cover the shortfall in public sector pension contributions when ministers should be filling it with a real terms funding rise. Police numbers must not be sacrificed as a result.

The Government is side-stepping its responsibility to policing by moving more of the funding burden from general to local taxation. The Government should fund policing through the tax revenue it already collects instead of making residents cough up yet more money in council tax. Why is the Prime Minister cutting corporation tax while kicking the police in the teeth in the name of austerity? Our front-line officers do a heroic job in tough circumstances—they need you to turn the tide on austerity not turn your back on your funding pledges.

Yours sincerely

Tom Hayes