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COUNCIL TAX: REPORT 'MISSES POINT' ON POLICE AUTHORITIES

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Police authority leaders have welcomed the Audit Commission report on council tax* as valuable in contributing to t...
Police authority leaders have welcomed the Audit Commission report on council tax* as valuable in contributing to the debate on local government funding, but expressed strong disagreement with points made about police authorities.

Responding to the report, Dr Ruth Henig, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities said: 'The report is a useful and timely one. We agree with many of the Audit Commission's points about the current system. We have called for a higher proportion of funding to be raised locally rather than from central funds. This would reduce the impact of the 'gearing impact' which means that a relatively small budget increase leads to a much larger percentage increase in the precept on council taxpayers.'

Dr Henig added: 'But we wholly refute the suggestion that police authorities are less affected by pressure from council tax payers as they are not directly elected - and by implication set higher precept increases as a result. This ignores the following points:

  • police authority budgets have to be approved by a majority of councillor members

  • the gearing effect applies even more sharply to police authorities than to other local authorities because of the police grant we receive from the Home Office

  • in 2003/04 police authorities suffered from a funding gap of £207m between what we received from central Government and what we needed to sustain current levels of service

  • police authorities have a statutory duty to consult communities about policing - consultation about the 2003/04 budget found people willing to pay more for policing services.'

    Notes

    1.The Association of Police Authorities represents all 44 police authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Local police authorities, along with the home secretary and chief officers of police, make up the tripartite relationship which is responsible for the governance of policing in England and Wales.

    2.Police authorities are made up of local people compris ing a mixture of councillors, magistrates and independent members. Police authorities are responsible for:

  • setting the budget for their police force, including raising local council taxes for policing

  • consulting and engaging with local communities to find out what they want the local police to tackle

  • setting the strategic direction for policing locally, deciding local priorities for policing and setting their force challenging targets to drive performance higher

  • appointing (and, if necessary, dismissing) the chief officer

  • monitoring and managing local police performance.

    * Summary

    National Report

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