FURTHER fears have been raised over the Government’s ‘real terms cut’ to the county’s police force.

City councillor Tom Hayes has accused the Government of recklessly gambling on people’s safety and penned a letter to Thames Valley police and crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld expressing his concerns.

The criticism follows last week’s announcement of an extra £450m for forces in England and Wales, with much of the money only available to commissioners who raise the police portion of council tax.

Mr Stansfeld and others were given the option to raise the portion by £12 per average household annually.

Currently residents pay £170 of their council tax bill each year to police.

Mr Stansfeld accepted the need for a tax rise to support police and launched a public consultation.

Mr Hayes, who is board member for community safety, said: “Raising the precept while the Conservatives are in Government can only be a plaster over a deepening wound. But a plaster is better than nothing.

“This police finance plan won’t address the serious problems faced by police officers, and my constituents have very real concerns about the safety of their communities.

“We’re asking fewer police officers to do so much more with even less, and it’s an insult to the police force and our communities.

“We have to do all we can to ensure people are safe in their own neighbourhoods. We cannot gamble with people’s safety as the Government are recklessly doing right now.”

Mr Hayes warned that people throughout Oxford, including his own St Clement’s ward, have noticed a decline in visible police presence, coupled with a rise in public drug use and dealing.

He is so concerned with the issue that he has put forward city council proposals to fund two PCSOs in the worst affected areas.

The clock is now ticking for residents who want to have their say on whether they would pay more to support police, with Mr Stansfeld’s survey ending on January 11.

At present, around 60 per cent of Thames Valley Police’s £393m annual policing budget is funded by central government, with the policing element of council tax making up the remainder.

Since 2010/11 the police grant has been cut by around 38 per cent in real terms which has resulted in the force having to make £99 million of savings in order to balance the budget.

These cuts have already led to a manpower reduction of over 1,000 full time equivalent posts, including more than 450 police officers.

The survey is at bit.ly/2zgGAwk