THE county’s police and crime commissioner hinted at possible council tax rises, telling councillors he would “very much like” to take on extra officers next year.

The proportion of council tax paid by Swindon residents to the county’s police commissioner has risen by on average £2 per household this year, with the additional cash going to fund around 40 new police officers for Wiltshire.

Speaking to South Swindon Parish Council, police and crime commissioner Angus Macpherson said: “I would very much like to see us take another 40 next year.”

However, it might be difficult to take any more than that – as the force would struggle to train more than 40 new recruits. Mr Macpherson added: “You can have an awful lot, but if you can’t train them you’re not necessarily getting the best out of them.”

His comments will raise fears of another council tax hike next year. Currently, the tax on a band D property in the South Swindon parish is £1,762.19. Swindon Borough Council increased its precept, the proportion of the council tax bill paid to the council, by 3.99 per cent. Other authorities, like the fire service, also increased their precepts.

Mr Macpherson later clarified his comments, stressing he had no plans to increase the council tax precept. “I have made no decisions regarding next year’s policing precept part of council tax,” he told the Swindon Advertiser.

“I continue to lobby the government for fairer funding in Wiltshire, I recognise that there is a finite amount of national funding, but this needs to be allocated fairly. This year’s increase will see an additional 41 officers, two staff, funding for two digital units and funding to prevent crime through early intervention.

“Let me be clear, I want to see even more police officers recruited in future, but I await this year’s funding settlement from the Home Office and subsequent public consultation before I make any firm decisions regarding the precept.”

Last week, parish councillors raised concerns about the number of police officers Wiltshire had lost since 2010. Official figures show that last year Wiltshire had 187 fewer regular police officers than it had in 2010.

Neil Hopkins, an Old Town parish councillor, said of Wiltshire’s latest 41 recruits: “It does seem to be a sticking plaster on what amounts to a full-blown haemorrhage.”

Mr Macpherson acknowledged there were fewer officers, but said Wiltshire Police used more civilian investigators than other forces.