A proposal to increase the proportion of council tax destined for policing services by 5.1 per cent next year has been approved by the Wiltshire Police and Crime Panel.

This represents a £13 increase on the 2023/24 level for Band D properties, raising the total amount of council tax put towards policing services to £269.27.

This increase is the maximum amount allowed without holding a referendum.

The decision to approve this portion, known as the police precept, was made at the Wiltshire Police and Crime Panel meeting on Thursday, February 8.

Philip Wilkinson, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), presented a report which proposed a total precept of £73.448 million.

He said that this was necessary to “confront the inflationary challenges” and to continue making the necessary investments across the force.

He said: “I believe sincerely that we are now delivering value for money.”

The PCC referenced the results from the budget consultation survey that showed 85 per cent of respondents wanted to see more investment to increase policing in the community, and 68 per cent were prepared to pay between £10 and £20 more per year for this increase.

However, Councillor Adamcova, the vice-chairman of the panel, pointed out that the survey also revealed 92 per cent of respondents wanted to see investment coming from central government.

Citing the cost-of-living crisis, she said: “We still need to remember that there are some people choosing between heating and eating, which is a devastating decision for many households.”

The PCC responded that he had been lobbying for a change in the Police Funding Formula, which divides up how much money each police force receives from the overall central government funds.

He joked: “Short of offering the home secretary violence, I’m not sure that there is any more that I can actually do in terms of lobbying.”

He added: “I think it is extremely unfortunate and I have great sympathy for those people who are struggling economically but the ultimate driver for any decision that I take will be a democratic decision.”

The PCC also faced scrutiny on the planned allocation of funds as councillors questioned whether enough would be spent to increase the amount of frontline police officers, in keeping with the wishes of residents.

Those who participated in the budget survey were asked where future investment for policing in their communities should be prioritised.

Measures to reduce repeat offenders and improving police performance were the top priority for participating residents, closely followed by reducing anti-social behaviour.

Increasing support for victims of crime and environmental sustainability measures were chosen as the lowest priorities.

The PCC explained that the balance of the funding allocation was “in transition.”

He said: “We have had to invest significantly in the senior leadership to make sure that we put in place the capability to develop the plans that we need right now to make the necessary improvements to deliver the force that the residents of Wiltshire want.

“Once those plans, those procedures and those policies are in place, then I would like to think that we would gradually be able to shift some of the additional resources, that we had to give to that level, more to the frontline.”

Eight councillors voted to approve the PCC’s proposals, whilst two voted against.

A total of 2,610 responses were received from the public during the period of the budget survey, which is a slight decrease compared to the previous year.

The majority of respondents were over the age of 44 years old and over 90 per cent reported being from a white background.

Councillors discussed possible measures for improving the diversity of participants next year, such an increased outreach to different ethnic communities.