TAXPAYERS will be charged an extra £1 a month on average to pay for policing in the county from April.

The police and crime element of council tax was agreed unanimously today by the Police and Crime Panel.

Band D properties' police precept will increase by £12 a year, from £14.19 per month to £15.19 per month.

Police and crime commissioner Angus Macpherson previously told the panel the increase would be used to protect community policing and prevent further cuts, but would not mean more officers on the ground.

A consultation on the proposed increase was held throughout January, with 70 per cent of those responding supporting the rise.

Mr Macpherson said: “I am pleased that we have had a positive response from the public throughout the consultation; at area board and locality meetings, through social media and the website."

And he said changes in central government funding meant increases were necessary, as it did not recognise financial pressures faced by the force.

Wiltshire Police receives the fourth lowest amount of funding per head of population in England and Wales, and receives £19 million less from central government than in 2010.

The increase, which represents a seven per cent rise, will provide an additional £3 million to protect police officers, community support officers and community policing teams.

Mr Macpherson said: “I am pleased to be supporting local policing. This increase will help close the funding gap, and whilst savings still need to be made, community policing teams will not be affected.

“Unfortunately this will not mean more officers on the beat; however it certainly will not mean any less.

"And whilst we’re able to maintain our services this year, we’re hopeful of being able to invest a substantial sum into them next year.

“I will continue to fight for fair funding for Wiltshire so that we get a reasonable share of the national funding pot.

“I am pleased today that the Police and Crime Panel have recognised the result of the consultation, the strength of the case, and have endorsed the precept.”