COUNCIL taxpayers in Wiltshire will be paying an extra £3.15 a year for their police from April.

The county’s police and crime panel has backed commissioner Angus Macpherson’s proposal for the first rise in three years.

The increase will generate £740,000 against an expected £3 million cut in central government funding for 2014/15.

Following the panel’s decision on Thursday Mr Macpherson said: “The rate for policing and crime services in our area has not increased for the past three years and it will still be the lowest in the south west.

“As some of the panel members said at the meeting, this is a small increase now to protect the police service and other services I can commission in the long term.”

He said the aim was to work more closely with other south west forces and Wiltshire Council to reduce costs and improve customer service as public sector budgets were cut.

The increase means the rate for the police and crime element of council tax for an average band D home will be £160.92.

Mr Macpherson is looking at a similar increase each year until 2017 in a bid to cut the potential funding shortfall by £2.3 million, which will mean that savings of £12.5 million will be needed rather than £14.8 million.

He pointed out that more than £10 million in savings have already been made.