A COUNCIL tax increase is being imposed to help Cumbria Police maintain front line officer numbers over the next two years.

The budget set by the county's Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes will mean a 1.95 per cent increase in council tax precept for 2013-14.

In contrast, both South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria County Council have frozen council tax rates for a further year.

Mr Rhodes said the rise - which represents £3.87 a year for a Band D property - will allow police officer and PCSO numbers to remain at 1,134 and 95 respectively up to 2015-16.

Today, he set the policing budget for 2013-14 and provisional estimates to 2016-17, by which he expects 64 officer posts may be lost.

Mr Rhodes said: "The policing budget will have reduced overall by a fifth by 2016-17 and that is not without its challenges as it is important to maintain performance and keep Cumbria safe.

"So far £12.1 million of savings have been achieved and financial forecasts indicate that £10.2 million of savings will have to be delivered between 2013-14 and 2016-17.

"It is clear from the people of Cumbria and the Police and Crime Panel that frontline officers tackling anti-social behaviour, domestic violence and road safety are key areas.

"The approved budget allows police officer and PCSO numbers to remain at 1134 and 95 respectively for two years but current predictions indicate that there may be a loss of 64 officer posts by 2017.

"As a result the police part of the council tax precept will increase by 1.95 per cent, which is £3.87 a year for a Band D property - slightly more than 1p a day.

"Going forward we will fully engage with the Home Office on any debate that takes place on the grant funding formula as any change to the funding formula would have a significant impact on future funding.”

Temporary Chief Constable Lawson said: "It is important to secure funding that allows the constabulary to best deliver its policing services in these difficult times. For two years we can maintain our current police officer and PCSO numbers to deliver our policing services into the heart of our communities.”