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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am sure her constituents say to her as mine do to me that there is that sense of having to make an increased contribution, yet not seeing an improvement in service.
With the increase in precept this year, there will be some new officers, which is very welcome, but it comes after almost a decade of considerable cutbacks. During the consultation on this year’s council tax increase, about three quarters of respondents indicated that they were willing to pay the additional money to protect police officer numbers and to put some extra officers on the beat, so our commissioner took the reluctant—I think—decision to propose an increase in the precept to generate an additional £10 million.
That increase, for most households—most Merseyside households are in band A for council tax—is £16 a year; for a band D property, it is £24 a year. Families across Merseyside, in our constituencies, face tight finances, so that kind of decision taken by local politicians is not one that is taken lightly. In an environment of increasing crime, however, with increasing calls for help from the public, politicians were left with no alternative. We simply cannot afford to lose any more officers, police community support officers or police staff in Merseyside.