Police officer numbers in Cleveland are set to reach their highest level in over a decade, as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Steve Turner sets out his annual budget proposal.

As the area’s PCC, Mr Turner is required to set the policing precept, or the amount residents pay for policing in their Council Tax, for the next financial year.

His proposal is to increase the precept by 5.4 per cent, or £15 per year for a Band D property.

As most households in Cleveland fall within Bands A-C, most residents will pay less.

Read more: North East veterinary hospital showcased on new BBC One series starting next week

Pay increases for police officers, plus the higher costs of fuel and energy will cost the Force an additional £8m in the next financial year.

Despite the additional funds raised through local taxpayers, the force will still be short of £4m, and will need to use reserves and other financial efficiencies to balance the books.

Recruitment of police officers remains a priority, with the PCC financially assisting the force to recruit 40 more officers than the initial targets set by the Government in 2020.

Mr Turner said: “It is never an easy decision to increase taxes for local people, but in this instance I believe it is necessary.

“Like many organisations across the country, Cleveland Police has felt the impact of the rising cost of fuel and energy – at the same time that officers receive their first pay increase for two years.

“I’m in no doubt that Cleveland Police are an improving force. With police officer numbers set to reach 1,500 by the end of March – the highest levels since 2014 – I want to see this improvement continue.

“Under the leadership of Chief Constable Mark Webster, this precept increase will allow the Force to maintain officer numbers and drive forward improvements already being made.”

Read more: Clear message in huge letters on beach of how Darlington feels about road plans

The Commissioner’s Office held a six-week consultation on the 2023/24 policing budget, in which 1,192 people took part online or at a face-to-face event.

Some 63.5 per cent of respondents indicated that they would be willing to pay more in their council atx towards policing.

The PCC has provided assurances that the services he commissions will not see a cut to their funding in the next year, despite the challenging financial circumstances.

In the last year, the Commissioner’s office invested £2.6m in services to support victims of crime to recover or to prevent offending behaviour before it occurs.

Read more: The dizzying scale of Redcar's former steelworks as seen by an outsider

The OPCC team essentially doubled this budget by securing a further £2.7m in national funding, submitting powerful bids to the Government in areas of need, such as serious violence and domestic abuse.

Mr Turner said: “Ensuring Cleveland Police are properly funded is only part of my role as PCC. I’m also responsible for investing in a range of services to reduce crime and support victims – a responsibility I take seriously.

“My team have worked hard over the last year to secure extra funding for Cleveland, including for our violence reduction partnership CURV.”

The PCC will present his proposal to Cleveland Police and Crime Panel on Tuesday, February 7, for their consideration.

Read next:

If you want to read more great stories, why not subscribe to The Northern Echo for as little as £1.25 a week. Click here.