CONSERVATIVE Government cuts to policing have been too severe, says Gloucestershire’s Tory police and crime commissioner as civic chiefs back a four per cent tax rise.

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Chris Nelson’s plans for a 4.41 per cent increase in council tax to pay for Gloucestershire Constabulary was endorsed by councillors today.

The increase, which will add £13 to the council tax bill for band D properties, brings the total amount of the annual bill which goes towards policing to £308.08.

Mr Nelson presented the £158m budget for next year at today’s (February 6) police and crime panel at Shire Hall.

“The cuts that were enforced by the Governments of the time,” he said.

“The [Tory-Lib Dem] Coalition and then the Conservative Government were too severe on the police.

“It’s why when I was elected three years ago, I really concentrated on increasing the size of the force, trying to rectify those problems.

“The 20,000 extra police officers this Government has initiated has made a real difference.”

He said the nature of policing has changed and both he and the chief constable have very high expectations which will mean a continued expansion of the constabulary.

Mr Nelson said he would be lobbying the Home Secretary this week about budget issues affecting the force.

He said he will also raise the issue of the funding formula which doesn’t support rural forces in the same way as urban ones.

Mr Nelson also told panel members it would help build on the progress the constabulary has made over the last year which saw it come out of special measures.

The cost of policing in Gloucestershire is split almost equally between the Government and local tax payers, with 53 per cent of its funding coming through central taxation and 47 per cent through council tax.

The £158.35m budget, up from £145.78m currently, includes £12.5m in pay rises and inflation costs, £1.3 for extra staff and £1.7m for other additional costs. Capital costs include £1.2m.

The force will use £534,000 from reserves and extra grant funding and other income will provide an additional £1.2m. The constabulary also has an “efficiency plan” which they estimate will cut costs by around £2.4m.