The BBC’s Mark Devenport picks up on one of the less widely discussed elements of the NIO discussion paper on policing – the proposed introduction of a policing precept, which, incidentally, I noted at the time. The proposal is to grant the Assembly the power to levy an additional charge, on top of the regional rate, to meet the cost of policing. He notes some of the looming bills that are due to come in, in particular the new police training college to be built at Mid Ulster, currently estimated to cost £130million.. but, if previous estimates of such projects are anything to go by, that cost could climb.
One particularly expensive project is the new police training college due to be built in Mid-Ulster.
Its capital cost is reckoned to be £130m. So far, the government has secured up to £90m for the project.
In the longer term, the government is looking to follow the example of police authorities elsewhere in the UK which are estimated to raise around 16% to 18% of their costs locally.
In Manchester, for example, people pay £110 per year towards the police.
In Liverpool, the figure is £115 and in South Wales it has just gone up to £126.
If those charges are anything to go by, the increase in regional rates, if the policing porecept is used, is likely to be high –
There are 820,000 ratepayers in Northern Ireland and the average rates bill is £550.
So the kind of police top-up common in England, Scotland and Wales would represent a significant increase in the overall bill.
One other point to note in this is that, although the Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Irleand, Peter Hain, referred to the introduction of a policing precept as – “giving the Assembly the power to raise revenue for policing from a policing precept, as is the case in England, Scotland and Wales.” – in England, Scotland and Wales that power lies with the local policing authorities, as in this example from the Nottingham Police Authority – which this year has levied an average charge of £132.24 – here that would be the Policing Board, not the Assembly.