Taxpayers to pay more for police

Local taxpayers will be increasingly forced to fund policing cuts. Police minister Tony McNulty rejected claims that forces were having to slash police numbers because of the cut-backs, but conceded there was a need for “debate” over the need to increase the local element of police funding.

Local taxpayers will be increasingly forced to fund policing cuts.

Police minister Tony McNulty rejected claims that forces were having to slash police numbers because of the cut-backs, but conceded there was a need for “debate” over the need to increase the local element of police funding.

He was speaking after a meeting with representatives of Norfolk Police Authority at which they warned him they would have to increase council tax by 7pc - above the level approved by government - to complete the recruitment of police community support officers (PCSOs). This came after about £1m was slashed from this year's funding settlement.

South West Norfolk MP Christopher Fraser joined calls for the government to reconsider its decision which could mean 91 PCSOs in west Norfolk being lost.

He said: “Over several years, Norfolk police's grant has consistently been revised downwards, and the funds real-located to police forces elsewhere. This shameless policy leaves Norfolk as one of the largest geographical areas in the country but with one of the lowest ratios of police officers per head of population.”

Forces nationwide argue funding settlements have not kept pace with inflation or the raft of government initiatives. But Mr McNulty insisted police funding had increased from £6.2bn in 1997/98 to £11bn in 2007/08 and the Gov-ernment had presided over ``the most intense period of police reform for over a century.”

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“Talking about slashing this and slashing that is not helpful and it doesn't happen to be true either,” he said.

“There is a need for a substantive debate on where we are going with the local element of police finance and the huge disparity between authorities.”

Norfolk Police Authority deputy chairman Maria Temple defended the imminent council tax hike. She told the EDP: “It is entirely reasonable for householders to point out that the share of our income taken in council tax has risen from 16pc in 1995 to 34pc in the current year.

“We have already contributed £20.5m in the last four financial years from efficiencies and re-engineering of the “business” and aim for 3pc more next year; a further £4m. We thus are responding to those who say we should do more for less or to stop doing some things altogether.”

t The police force investigating the Ipswich prostitute murders was promised an extra £8 million by the Government today.

Police Minister Tony McNulty said Suffolk Police would have to find £1 million of the £9 million spent on the investigation so far, with the Home Office paying the rest.

More money would follow next year, he told the Commons.

In reply to a question from Ipswich MP Chris Mole, he said the costs of the “exceptional events” just before Christmas would be covered by a specific grant in addition to the force's normal funding.

"As we are now, Suffolk has applied for all the activities thus far - some £9 million of special grant,' he said.

"Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has determined that much of that is entirely reasonable but it's only going to be the first half of an extended special grant because clearly pre-trial preparation, further investigations will carry well on into the subsequent financial years.'

"We will be equally very sympathetic given the unusual circumstances for what is a relatively small force when the second half of that special grant comes in next year and will treat it in similar or better terms.'

Hundreds of officers and support staff from more than 30 UK forces worked on the investigations into the deaths of the five women who worked in Ipswich.

Detectives worked non-stop for two weeks late last year on the biggest inquiry of its kind seen in Britain for more than a quarter of a century.

Police launched five separate murder investigations, each headed by an officer of Detective Chief Inspector rank or above.

Figures released earlier this month by the Suffolk Police Authority estimated that the total costs of the inquiry will come to £19 million - £9 million to the end of April and nearly £10 million between May and April 2008.

Steve Wright, 48, of Ipswich, Suffolk, has been charged with the murders of prostitutes Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

He is being held in custody at Belmarsh prison in south east London and is next due to appear before Ipswich Crown Court in May. He has entered no plea to the charges.