An historic referendum to raise cash to put more bobbies on the beat is to go ahead.
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins announced yesterday he was launching the referendum to raise the police precept by 15.8%. The cash raised will put 100 bobbies back into neighbourhood policing, he said.
Austerity measures and previous decisions not to raise the precept had left the county with a funding crisis, he claimed.
He added Bedfordshire was treated as a rural county despite having major urban issues in terms of policing.
The county had more serious acqusitive crime – theft and robbery – per officer than any other county, but funding from council tax was the third lowest in the country.
“Quite simply we are underfunded with a lack of resources,” he said.
Figures show crimes per officer in Beds is around 8, whereas nationally the figure is 5.5 per officer.
Defending her force, Chief Constable Colette Paul said her “thin blue line” worked incredibly hard. “We have got hard working officers and our detections are the 11th highest in the country,” she said.
The force had a high serious crime mix compared to many forces and a disproportionately high number of organised crime gangs.
Figures show the cost of policing in Beds is 44p per day per person against a national figure of 55p.
The referendum, held at the same time as the General Election, will ask to raise the police precept by 15.8%, a rise of 48p a week for band D tax payers.
The rise will pay for 75 extra officers in neighbourhood policing – 30 in Central Bedfordshire, 25 in Luton and 20 in Bedford, and 25 officers into safeguarding.