THE Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill is proposing a 1.95 per cent policing precept increase on the council tax for 2013 to 2014. The move, if approved, would help fund measures including the recruitment of another 12 police officers.

The policing precept is the part of the council tax which goes to pay for Dorset Police.

The proposed increase represents a seven pence a week increase. The precept would be £183.51 for a Band D property – a rise of £3.51 on the current year. Mr Underhill has proposed the move in his Policing Precept report to the Police and Crime Panel.

Within Mr Underhill's manifesto there are a number of pledges to the public which he says require investment over the term of office.

He said that some of these will be met through the redirection of existing resources, but some will result in additional cost. The main areas of extra cost will be around the recruitment of another 12 police officers, increasing the number of Special Constables, the extension of mobile data and improving support to victims. Police Officer recruitment in Dorset has been suspended since June 2010. Mr Underhill said that although overall numbers are set to fall further as funding continues to decline, recruitment of new officers is important to bring in new blood and will allow for balance within the workforce. It is intended that, subject to the precept decision, a new intake of 12 officers will be recruited in June 2013.

This will result in a net reduction of 38 officers, rather than the originally anticipated reduction of 50.

Mr Underhill said: “With the extension of the Governments austerity cuts to 2018 Dorset Police could be faced with not having any police officers with less than eight years' service. “The profile of the force will become unbalanced and it will make the workforce unstable. “There is a danger that we will begin to be unrepresentative of the community that we are policing and lose vital skills and leadership potential that new officers can bring”. Mr Underhill added: “The possibility of raising the precept has not been made lightly. "This 1.95 per cent option is the best balance between sustaining the force and seeking to limit the impact on council tax payers”

“I want to ensure security in the home and safety in public places. “We need to invest in our force to do this. “On my visits to towns and villages across Dorset, I have been told repeatedly that people want a more visible force. "My priority is to keep people in Dorset safe and feeling safe.

“I am asking people for an extra penny a day to sustain frontline policing, to help cut crime." The proposed precept will be considered by the police and crime panel on February 7 and, if approved, will come into force in April.