A POLICE commissioner has revealed his plan to levy a rise in council tax for his force at above three times the rate of inflation, despite the force having set a 13 per cent increase last year.

Acting Durham Police and Victims Commissioner Steve White told a meeting of Darlington Borough Council he had been left with little option but to propose the maximum increase in the police element of council tax that the government would allow before a referendum was triggered.

He said, subject to the approval of the Police and Crime Panel, the average band D taxpayer in Durham and Darlington would see their contribution to the force rise by £10 a year to £215, despite the government having increased its grant for the service. Two years ago the force asked for £181 from band D householders.

Mr White said recent years had seen a lot of effort being focused on maintaining police officer numbers, visibility and neighbourhood policing, but that had come “at a certain level of cost to the rest of the service in Durham and Darlington”, hitting the force’s information technology, buildings and the basic functioning of the force.

He said this year would see the force grow by 68 police officers and that their salaries would be funded by central government.

Mr White said: “We have sweated the assets that we have had over those years and have operated a policy of run to fail – if something breaks down we will fix it. That’s what has maintained officer numbers, but we can’t afford to do that any more.

“As a cop you don’t get a stressed about dealing with murder and death as you do with dealing with a computer that doesn’t work, a line manager you never see or a police station that’s falling down.”

He warned councillors that the force was looking at a deficit budget in four years’ time unless there was change in its funding, but a previous, flawed government review of police force funding had indicated Durham Constabulary could be left £11m out of pocket.

Mr White said: “There are some forces that win according to the existing formula and there are some forces that lose. There is certainly inequality to how forces are funded and it is high time for a review.”

The former police union boss said as acting commissioner, a role he took on after commissioner Ron Hogg fell ill last year, he was unable to propose a precept that would trigger a referendum, but the person elected to succeed Mr Hogg in May would have that power.