Residents in County Durham and Darlington will be charged up to £13 per year more to protect the future of policing in the region. 

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Joy Allen’s plans to raise the policing precept - a portion of the money paid towards council tax - by 5.1 per cent were approved today (Thursday, February 1). 

The increase equates to an extra 25p per week or £13 a year for Band D properties across the region. Yet, many households will pay around £8.67 per year due to the large proportion of Band A properties in the area. 

PCC Allen said the increase is vital to future proof the force following failed funding pleas to the government. It also means police officer numbers will also be maintained at 1,368 and PCSO numbers at 146 until at least April 2025. 

Residents in County Durham and Darlington currently pay more than those in the Northumbria Police area but less than people in Cleveland.

Speaking at a Police and Crime Panel meeting in Durham, PCC Allen alluded to the ongoing adversity facing Durham Constabulary and other low tax base forces who she described as being continually ‘left out in the cold’.

“At a time when every household is feeling the pinch, no Commissioner would willingly worsen the pain,” she said. “Regrettably, there is no other option. 

“This small increase in this year’s precept is imperative to keep officers at their current levels, to fortify neighbourhood policing as the public have asked and keep my promise to deliver a strong and effective, first-class policing service to local people.

Extra control room staff have also been recruited to improve response times through the 999 and 101 services. 

The Commissioner has previously written to the government to request more funding and support - but warned the struggles will continue.

“Durham remains at the bottom of the pile when it comes to police funding and this has serious implications for our future,” she added.

“There is now universal agreement that the current funding formula is unfit for purpose – even the government’s independent advisors have said so – but with no change on the horizon, Durham keeps on losing out, year after year.”

The Commissioner’s proposal was backed by more than half of the 1,935 people who responded to a survey. However, they faced opposition from Conservative and Independent members at Thursday’s meeting. 

Conservative candidate for the Durham and Darlington PCC, Cllr Robert Potts, questioned whether the police force is providing value for money after a recent government inspection found areas ‘require improvement’.

He said: “Nothing has been learned over the past policing failures or even over the past policing report, we shouldn’t continue to reward failures.” 

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Robbie Roddis, a former police officer from Crook, added: “I don’t see how we can justify this rate rise with what’s happening where I live. We don’t feel like we get anything like the value for money we should." 

But, in voting to approve the tax increase, Cllr David Boyes said: “We’re between a rock and a hard place financially, we’ve got to work with a lot less now. 

“It would be suicidal of us to veto or reduce the precept at this desperate time when we need more money just to maintain what we’ve already got.”