A proposal was put forward by Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson to increase the policing part of the council tax, known as the precept, by 6.2% following an extensive consultation process.
Previously, residents paid £241.27 a year towards the police precept for a Band D property. Under the approved proposal, residents will now pay, on average, an extra £15 a year when the new charges are introduced in April.
This means the total funding received by the force is £148.298M with 52.7% coming from central government and 47.3% from council tax contributions.
Mr Wilkinson told the panel that whilst he understood the financial pressures people are facing, the rise was supported by the public, with the majority of respondents to his recent "Use Your Voice" survey saying they were behind the 6.2% increase.
"I wish I didn't have to ask as I am very aware of the cost of living crisis and the inflationary pressures our residents are feeling.
"However Wiltshire Police is having to deal with those same pressures. If I do not increase the precept, I will be over £4m short of delivering the service that our residents want and deserve.
"Even by putting the precept up by £15 a year, there are still savings that need to be made. I'm confident that the Chief Constable and I can put in place the necessary cost efficiencies whilst at the same time, delivering a better service for the public"
Mr Wilkinson also reiterated his commitment to continue to lobby government for a better funding formula in order to level up Wiltshire in line with similar forces across the country.
Wiltshire is the third lowest-funded force area, per head of population, and has the lowest council tax in the South West.
"If Wiltshire Police was to be paid the national average for each head of population in Wiltshire and Swindon, I would be able to afford something in the region of an extra 100 fully trained and fully equipped police officers.
"This is why I have written to the Home Secretary to arrange a meeting to discuss this important issue and have regular meetings with ministers and MPs to talk about these issues.
"We have seen an increase in demand and our officers are also taking on responsibilities of other emergency services, which adds to their workload.
"I need to be able to explain the pressures we are facing to the Home Secretary and demonstrate that I've done everything I can to raise funds locally before asking for more money from central government"
Today's decision to approve the rise means Wiltshire Police will look to recruit and train 162 new officers over the next year. This will increase the total number of officers in the force by 32, once this is balanced against the number of officers expected to leave the service.
Before putting his proposals to increase the precept in front of the panel, the Police and Crime Commissioner conducted a survey over six weeks. It collected over 2,700 responses with 54% of respondents saying they were in favour of paying an extra 6.2%.
Councillor Steve Bucknell is the chair of the police and crime panel:
"The panel voted unanimously in favour of the budget put forward by the Police and Crime Commissioner, including the proposed 6.2% increase in the policing precept.
"Throughout the forthcoming year, the panel will look to ensure that Wiltshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner deliver value for money for the residents of Wiltshire and Swindon"
Published Thursday 2 February 2023