TAXPAYERS in Oxfordshire will have to pay more to cover the cost of policing but more stations may close and officers are still leaving in their hundreds.

After approving a council tax hike yesterday to stave off damaging cuts, Thames Valley Police's Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said the Government was 'dumping' the cost of policing on ratepayers.

Full list of planned police station closures across Oxfordshire

Every household in Oxfordshire will now pay more to fund the force, with a Band D property stumping up £24 extra a year - a 14 per cent rise.

It comes as new figures revealed the force was still 59 officers short of its target and has the 'highest turnover of staff in the country', when compared to other police services. 

And, despite the tax hike allowing the force to halt the controversial planned closure of Northway and Marston Police Office in Oxford, it still plans to potentially dispose of more property including St Aldates Police Station in the city centre.

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Approving the tax rise, which was backed by nearly 70 per cent of the public in a vote, Mr Stansfeld conceded it was the 'least worst option.'

He said: "We have gone from an almost impossible situation, where we were going to have to make major cuts, to something that is much more suitable.

"But this shifts the balance from the Government to the ratepayers.

"We need to have a thorough look at a national level about the priority we give to law and order in this country.

"We have no trouble spending money on big projects like HS2 and we spend more on international aid than on policing.

"We are dumping the cost of stabilising policing onto the household."

The extra money will help cover the costs of major, complex investigations, pay for more call handlers and allow the force to invest in technology to improve its 101 call system.

Chief Constable Francis Habgood said the public could also expect to see a 'modest' increase in the numbers of officers seen out in communities.

He told the Oxford Mail: "Policing has undergone increases in the complexity of some of the demand.

"Just yesterday we had the sentencing for Operation Silk in Oxfordshire.

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"We are still getting those big investigations around vulnerability; child sexual exploitation.

"More cases are being investigated and they tend to be more serious and complex."

He added: "We know that our call handling has not been what we would want in recent months.

"We're going to be investing in more people there whilst the technology is established and we are providing more online services as well.

"People shouldn't expect to see loads of additional police officers but there will be some more going into local police areas to maintain the resources to respond to those immediate calls."

Despite the extra money, the force still has major problems with officer numbers.

While Mr Habgood denied things were at 'crisis levels', the force has started the year with 3,753 officers - 59 below the number it feels it needs.

That is despite recruiting 410 more officers over the last year, with retirements and transfers to other forces the main reasons why numbers are still down.

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Mr Stansfeld said the force was powerless to stop people choosing to leave the area, particularly given the high cost of living.

He said: "When all the other police forces were cut right back, there were still a lot of people who wanted to be police officers.

"We never stopped recruiting so lots of people came to join us from other areas.

"When the forces where they lived start recruiting again, they are going back as fully-formed trained officers from Thames Valley and we lose out.

"It is very difficult. It is natural you would want to go home and buy a cheaper house. I do understand that."

Even with the council tax rise, the force is having to cut more than £15m over the next four years.

To save costs, it is again looking at the properties it owns and disposing or downsizing those it feels it no longer needs.

Despite already dropping 100 buildings since 2010, more could be axed in the coming years as the force feels it has too much space, given the officer reductions.

In Oxfordshire, sites in Banbury, Bicester Gowell Farm, Wantage Library, Wheatley and Sonning Common will all be lost before 2022.

Police buildings in Woodstock, Chipping Norton, Carterton, Upper Heyford, Faringdon and Abingdon will all be disposed of but replaced.

Bases in Didcot, St Aldates, Eynsham, Deddington and Bicester and Witney are all at risk of disposal, with only some earmarked to be replaced.