6p tax rise could help recruit more police, says crime commissioner candidate Joy Garner
TAXPAYERS could be asked to pay an extra 6p-a-week to help end the freeze on hiring police officers in Staffordshire.
The option is being considered by the Labour candidate who is hoping to become the county's first police and crime commissioner (PCC).
If elected next month, Burslem councillor Joy Garner will have powers over how Staffordshire Police spends its budget and how much it charges council tax payers for the police precept.
Officially launching her campaign yesterday, she said she was 'open to the public's views' on the best ways to end the recruitment freeze and get bobbies on the beat.
Householders in Band D properties in Staffordshire currently pay £177.61 for the police precept. A two per cent increase would work out at an extra 6p-a-week.
Mrs Garner said: "It could be a penny rise on some properties. I haven't ruled it out and I haven't ruled it in."
But this extra money is likely to simply slow the pace of police cutbacks, rather than result in more overall police officers.
The Staffordshire force is being forced to save a least £34 million by 2015 as part of the Government's austerity measures. It means losing around 400 officers.
Mrs Garner said she was fighting the election on an anti-cuts ticket.
She added: "Rather than just accept the cuts, I will be going down to London, knocking on the Home Secretary's door."
At the launch of her campaign, Mrs Garner was joined by Theresa May's opposite number, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.
The event was held at North Staffordshire YMCA and the Labour politicians also took part in a panel discussion with some of the young people staying at the Hanley centre.
Ms Cooper told The Sentinel: "We need to make sure people vote in the election. Policing is so important.
"When you've got 400 police officers being cut from this force, we want people to send a message to the Government that it is cutting too far and too fast."
The PCC elections take place on November 15 and Mrs Garner will be going head-to-head with Conservative candidate Matthew Ellis. The commissioner role is replacing traditional police authorities and their powers will include being able to hire and fire the chief constable.
Mrs Garner's other priorities include setting up an anti-social behaviour taskforce, with a pledge that police will respond to reports of anti-social behaviour within 24 hours.
Kay Pollard, from Blythe Bridge, was one of the teenagers taking part in yesterday's panel discussion.
The 17-year-old, who is staying at the YMCA, believes police should focus on street safety.
She said: "I'm scared to walk into town on my own at night. Young people are often the victims of crime. Drink and drugs are also a big problem. Too many young people get bored and drink cheap alcohol."