Cllr Ann Holtom, (Liberal Democrat, Tyburn Ward) who recently carried out a major survey of attitudes to crime and policing, and who regularly consults local people through her advice bureau and local newsletters, has acknowledged that reducing crime continues to be high on the list of priorities for residents. Cllr Holtom has welcomed recent police statistics indicating that crime has reduced in Tyburn Ward by 10% in the last year but pledges to work for residents in the light of their concerns as ever more needs to be done to reduce crime levels even further.
Cuts in the number of police due to the recession and the massive budget deficit the Coalition Government inherited from the previous Labour Government are predicted to be harsh. Cllr Holtom has therefore urged that the government needs to think "outside the box" if we are to tackle this issue in a positive way. She noted that, almost two years, ago Lib Dems on the City Council suggested that we should offer a 50% discount on their Council Tax bills for people who volunteer to be special constables.
This incentive would potentially increase the number of police specials who are available to fight crime on our streets.
Council tax discounts for specials has proved to be successful in other areas with the recruitment of specials increasing by as much as 55%. In the West Midlands only 134 people joined the West Midlands police as a special, which as down from 278 in the previous year. Nationally the number of specials has fallen from 67,000 to 15,000 and Cllr Holtom would like to see this situation reversed.
In a statement, Cllr Holtom said: "We urgently need these additional officers who have many of the powers of their full time colleagues and commit to a minimum of 16 hours per month to fight crime on local streets. I'm pleased to say that the Coalition Government are considering providing reductions of 50% in Council Tax bills for people who wish to become special constables and I certainly hope that this will become a reality and that we will see more police specials on our streets preventing crime and reassuring local residents."