RESIDENTS are being asked if they would pay higher council tax bills to help fund the local police force.

Mark Shelford, police and crime commissioner for Avon and Somerset, has launched an online survey asking people to say if they agree or disagree with his proposal to increase the policing part of the average band D council tax bill by £15.

Mr Shelford said only 41 per cent of police funding came from council tax, with the rest made up of Home Office and other grants.

The Government has restricted police forces to a maximum £15 increase in the average precept charged to council taxpayers for the coming financial year, equivalent to a six per cent rise, and is assuming most will ask for the top rate.

But Mr Shelford said even the maximum precept increase would not raise enough to meet projected costs, leaving the Avon and Somerset Constabulary facing a £3.2 million deficit for 2023-24, and a £7.4 million budget gap the following year.

Mr Shelford said: “Even if Avon and Somerset Police receive an extra £15 next year from local people in band D households, this will leave a significant deficit that will impact policing.”

He said £3.2 million was the equivalent of 80 police staff such as PCSOs, investigators, and 999/101 call handlers, or the running costs of two-thirds of the force’s entire fleet of 1,000 vehicles, or one-third of all police stations and buildings.

Mr Shelford said: “The £7.4 million deficit in 2024-25 would increase these numbers to 185 police staff, or more than the running costs of the entire police fleet, or the running costs of two-thirds of police stations and buildings.

“I know that times are tough for a lot of households and an increase in bills next year is a big ask from local residents.

“Rising costs of living, fuel, and inflation is impacting us all, including the cost of running the police service.

“However, in order to deliver on the priorities and the issues you told me were important to you when I was elected, I need to ask for this additional funding.

“Please do take five minutes to complete the survey and share your thoughts with me.”

Mr Shelford said 15,000 postal surveys would also go out to residents across Avon and Somerset.

The survey, which will run until January 30, can be found by visiting