THE man who represents thousands of rank-and-file police officers across Hampshire has hailed a funding boost as a “lifeline” for the force.

Alex Charge, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, has praised the decision to raise the police precept – part of the council tax – to generate more money for frontline services.

The proposals were unanimously approved by the county’s Police and Crime Panel last Friday.

It means the average Band D council tax payer will be charged an extra £24 in the coming financial year.

Mr Charge, who represents 2,800 officers, said: “Whilst we would want central government to provide 100% of funding for policing this is not the case.

“Hampshire Police Federation welcomes the tax precept increase and the agreement that all this money will be spent on policing.

“It’s not a solution to the funding crisis but it’s a lifeline that Hampshire needs.”

The cash boost has also been welcomed by Margaret Filey, president of the Hampshire Neighbourhood Watch Association.

In a letter to Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, she said: “Neighbourhood Watch shares your intent in creating ‘safer communities’ as our prime focus.

“This extra funding will enable the Chief Constable to better prepare for current and future threats in an ever more complex and changing crime landscape.”

As previously reported, the money will enable Hampshire Constabulary to recruit a further 200 police officers and an extra 60 police staff investigators.

Mr Lane said: “Delivering modern operationally effective policing to keep us safe and defeat the greatest threats, while responding to community priorities is not an easy task in times of financial constraint.

“All of the increase in the policing precept will be used to support local policing.”

A public consultation exercise has revealed widespread public support for the precept increase, with 76% of people who responded saying they backed the proposal.

The Chief Constable, Olivia Pinkney, said: “We are delighted so many members of the public have also expressed their support for policing.”