Reassurances over police funding rise

SUFFOLK police today stressed any fears of an inflation-busting rise of 24 per cent for their share of the council tax were extremely premature.It was reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star that the constabulary's bosses were considering the whopping increase as one of their options.

SUFFOLK police today stressed any fears of an inflation-busting rise of 24 per cent for their share of the council tax were extremely premature.

It was reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star that the constabulary's bosses were considering the whopping increase as one of their options.

However a spokesman for the force was adamant the figure was only being used as part of data from two polls, one from Mori, the other carried out by Swift Research. These asked residents and businesses how much extra they would be prepared to pay for policing as part of their council and business taxes over the next 12 months.

A wide range of bandings were used in the survey with the top figure being 24pc and above.

The purpose of the poll was to use it as a benchmark so Suffolk Police Authority could gauge the feelings of the county.

The police spokesman said: "A decision has yet to be made. Members of the police authority have discussed two exercises which took place involving the public and businesses that looked at a number of issues involving how much council tax people would be prepared to pay."

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The spokesman also said police authorities throughout the country are facing going cap in hand to councils to ask for an average increase of 14pc in their share of council tax. This is to make up for a shortfall in funding from government.

In their battle for cash the Association of Police Authorities is also asking Tony Blair for a review of the way the police are to be funded.

In Suffolk the two surveys revealed two thirds of people were prepared to pay at least a 12-15pc rise which would maintain existing services. The police authority says any less than 12-15pc would mean cuts to services.

The police authority has previously said it could demand a rise of 15.8pc, and is due to set its rate on February 23.

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