CHESHIRE residents are set to pay an extra £10 a year on average to fund policing after being told the ‘burden’ of funding is shifting from central Government to taxpayers in the area.

The county’s police and crime panel supported police and crime commissioner David Keane’s proposed budget and £10 precept increase earlier today, Friday.

The policing precept – the element of council tax that pays for policing – will rise by an average of £10 per year to help fund this year’s budget.

It follows a public consultation where, Mr Keane said, two thirds of respondents agreed to an increase in the precept to invest in neighbourhood policing.

Panel chairman Evan Morris said he believes members ‘are more informed than they have ever been’ about the current situation and challenges facing the force.

Labour’s Mr Keane, who is seeking re-election in the police and crime commissioner elections in May, labelled the meeting as ‘one of the most important’ of the year before telling the panel it comes following a ‘difficult and in-depth process’.

But Cheshire West and Chester Conservative councillor Andrew Dawson asked him to reflect on his past budgets and about whether he expects the ‘above inflation’ precept rises he has been seeking to ‘come to an end’ or being likely to continue.

Mr Keane told him he realises the ‘burden’ of police funding is shifting from central Government to local taxpayers but said, without precept increases in recent years, the force would be ‘way, way behind where we are now’.

He also highlighted his promise to deliver sustainability, rather than ‘knee-jerk reactions’.

Plans include all of Cheshire’s 122 policing communities having their own named police officer dedicated to tackling issues in each area.

Mr Keane says it is thanks to the 43 additional frontline police officers, recruited as part of the commissioner’s budget last year, and an additional 90 officers funded by the Government’s uplift programme, who will be in post by March 2021.

The new neighbourhood officers will work alongside the PCSOs already dedicated to each policing community to develop ‘strong links’ with residents and ‘tackle emerging issues before they become more serious’.