PLANS to increase council tax in order to fight against cyber crime in the county have been welcomed by members of the public.
A survey conducted by the Police and Crime Commissioner indicated widespread support among the public for a two per cent increase in council tax to pay for more specialist policing in Gloucestershire to help finance the fight against internet crooks and trolls.
The research showed that 74.1 per cent of respondents agreed with the proposed increase and 16.5 per cent disagreed.
Meanwhile all focus group respondents supported a two per cent increase in order to tackle cyber crime.
PCC Martin Surl will now decide whether to freeze the police portion of the council tax, meaning the average band D householder would pay around £203.68 for the year, or he can raise it by two per cent which would equate to an increase of £4.05 annually or eight pence per week.
If the commissioner does opt for the increase it is likely the extra money would go towards improving the constabulary’s capability for tackling crimes and anti-social behaviour carried out on the internet and social network sites – an area in which it currently has relatively little expertise.
“There is no doubt the internet is a wonderful resource but it has made people vulnerable in their own homes,” said Mr Surl.
“If I do raise council tax I hope it will be the last time before the next election, but cyber crime is an issue we all have to face up to.
“It is a key priority within the UK’s Strategic Policing Requirement which means every police force, large or small, has to make a contribution.
“Both the Chief Constable and I have a shared responsibility to ensure that Gloucestershire Police are able to respond effectively to any form of cyber attack on a national scale and to develop our own cyber crime capabilities beneath that level of threat”.
Policing is funded through a grant from the Government and local council taxes.
Last year’s budget was £102.7 million and details of where the money went and some examples of how it was used can be found on the PCC’s website www.gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk.
The Gloucestershire Police and Crime Panel will be asked to confirm the PCC’s budget at its meeting in February.