Suffolk Police Authority prefers council tax rise

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Suffolk police is proposing to increase its part of the council tax by 3.75% from April.

The force said the money was needed to help it cope with cutting £16m from its budget.

Suffolk Police Authority's preferred option would mean this year's £160.74 precept for a band D household would increase by £6.03.

The authority could also freeze the tax and accept a government grant of £1.25m.

The government pays a one-off Council Tax Freezing Grant to police forces which do not increase their charge.

'Stores up problems'

The police force's chief constable, Simon Ash, said the tax increase would generate an extra £1.55m a year.

He said: "It's essentially a choice between a short-term option [freezing council tax] that stores up some problems, which means more cuts the following year, and an option [increasing council tax] which makes the long-term prospects easier to handle.

"The police authority commissioned a survey that showed that 73% of people were prepared to pay a 3% increase in their council tax.

"At the moment we've got 1,200 officers in the force and I think dropping much below that starts to become more difficult to police the county."

In November, the force said it would have to cut 100 officer posts and 200 of its 1,000 civilian posts.

Joanna Spicer, chairman of the police authority and a Conservative county councillor, said: "We want to keep costs down for council tax payers.

"However, our role as an authority is to secure an efficient and effective policing service for Suffolk, which already has one of the lowest cost forces in the country.

"We have agreed a preference to increase the council tax, but we do want to hear people's views on that over the next two or three weeks."

Suffolk Police Authority will make a final decision on the council tax precept on 20 February.

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