Council tax bills set to rise by 7% in Hertfordshire after PCC's plans backed by panel

The increase will be used to increase the number of police officers in the county

Monday, 8th February 2021, 10:57 am

The policing element of council tax bills in Hertfordshire is set to rise by seven per cent, in line with proposals drawn up by Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd.

Mr Lloyd proposed the increase – equivalent to £15 a year for a Band D property – to a meeting of the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Panel, on Thursday, February 4.

He told the panel the increase would be used to increase the number of police officers in the county – expected to reach an all time high of 2,267 by 2022.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd

And he also referenced plans to develop a so-called ‘Prevention First’ approach, which would involve working with community groups and partners to identify and tackle the root causes of crime.

The police and crime panel – which has the power to block the commissioner’s plans to increase the council tax precept – accepted the proposal by a majority.

All members voted to accept the precept except former police officer Cllr Sam North – who has been named as the Liberal Dem candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, scheduled for May (2021) – who abstained.

At the meeting, which was held virtually, Mr Lloyd told members this was “an exciting moment”.

He pointed to a the second year of “unprecedented” government funding for policing.

And he said: “This precept represents a once in a generation opportunity to create the largest police force that Hertfordshire has ever seen and undergo significant transformation and fundamental change.

“This investment enables us to build a legacy for the future.”

Currently the Hertfordshire force has 2100 police officers – which Mr Lloyd said is 91 more than the same time last year (2020) and 131 more than in 2018.

But according to the Commissioner’s proposals by the end of the year that figure is expected to rise to 2267.

Mr Lloyd told the panel the plans to increase the number of front-line police officers reflected the views of residents too.

“I have listened and responded to what the public have told me they want – and they have endorsed more front-line officers,” he told the panel.

“We know that local policing ins the bedrock of effective policing. It improves visibility and contact and cuts crime.”

Meanwhile Mr Lloyd also points to the moves towards a ‘Prevention First ‘ approach, which he said the constabulary was “eager” to get on with.

He said this would be a “step-change” in the way policing happens in Hertfordshire.

And, according to the proposals, 30 of the new recruits would be specifically ‘prevention first’ officers.

For a resident of a typical Band D property the £15 increase – that’s £1.25 a week – will mean an annual charge of £213.

And overall it is expected to mean an extra £5.2million for policing in the county.

In advance of the meeting members of the police and crime panel had submitted more than 40 questions relating to the precept.

And following the meeting panel chair Cllr Siobhan Monaghan said this was to ensure – through scrutiny – the best service for the public.

She said: “The panel voted in favour of the PPC precept for 2021/22.

“Our role is to understand that assumptions have been measured by risk and that overall value for money is delivered.”

Meanwhile the commissioner’s report to the panel also pointed to increasing trends in reported cyber crime and economic crime, child sexual exploitation and county line drug dealing.

It also pointed to an increase in the number of victims of crime needing help and support to recover from their ordeal.

It was reported to the panel that the commissioner’s budget plans include £258k to create Beacon Safeguarding Hub within the domestic abuse investigation and safeguarding unit.