Devon and Cornwall tax hike plea to 'save police officers'

Police Image copyright PA
Image caption The proposal would add about £25 a year to the bill of the average band D property in Devon and Cornwall

Police bosses claim a rise in council tax would save hundreds of officer posts as it faces budget cuts.

A referendum will be held on 5 May on adding about £25 a year to the bill of the average band D property in Devon and Cornwall.

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Tony Hogg said a 15% the rise could save 350 officers.

It came as the government said changes to the way money was allocated to police would be delayed.

Figures between a 10% and 25% increase were being considered, but senior police sources told the BBC a 15% option was considered a "workable compromise".

Image caption Devon and Cornwall PCC Tony Hogg said cuts "risk opening a gap between the police and public"

Devon and Cornwall Police is expecting a budget cut of £54m a year, with the loss of up to 760 police officers and all 360 community support officers.

The Home Office said: "Crime has been falling, and the police can still find further efficiencies without harming frontline services."

The public consultation will run until Christmas and a YouGov opinion poll will be commissioned as part of the consultation costing under £10,000, Mr Hogg added.

If a referendum is held in May, on the same day as the PCC elections, the estimated cost is about £2m.

Mr Hogg said he had decided not to stand for the role again for family reasons.

Elsewhere, a public consultation and referendum to raise an extra £4.5m for Bedfordshire Police was rejected in May.

Police minister Mike Penning, who announced the delay in allocating money to forces, apologised to the Commons for a "statistical error" in the new formula, which assesses population size and other data to calculate force funding.

The issue had caused "a great deal of concern to police forces", he added.

Andrew White, chief executive to the Devon and Cornwall PCC, who uncovered the error, said the force was "delighted" that the changes were delayed and as the process had lost credibility.

Mr White added: "This is what we have been calling for for some time as the process gradually lost credibility and the admission of the significant errors last week were the final nail in the coffin."

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