HAMPSHIRE’S Police and Crime Commissioner has been told to spend cash raised through a precept hike on saving police numbers rather than on his own office.

Members of the county’s police and crime panel have dealt Michael Lane a blow by refusing to fully back his budget proposals.

Plans for increasing the police's proportion of council tax by £12 a year for Band D properties are set to go ahead.

But panel members said that money raised through the increase should go towards supporting policing and not to the commissioner’s office.

As reported in the Echo, Hampshire Constabulary is set to cut 100 officers and 50 support staff, although in some cases this would be scrapping vacancies.

Hampshire Constabulary has to save £24 million over the next four years following a series of reductions in the annual grant it receives from the government.

Mr Lane had asked the panel to support his recommendation, which included an extra £440,000 for his office.

But an alternative recommendation by member Bob Purkiss was approved unanimously.

The recommendation was for any increase in funding to be put into maintaining and enhancing police officers and staff.

Mr Lane said: "If I am disappointed at all it is in the last 18 months I have not made it clear to you the public service ethos and professionalism I seek to bring to all that I do.

“I am absolutely certain that the £12 is necessary to keep all the people we serve safe.”

Mr Lane said the council tax increase would allow “breathing space”.

“It will help us to avoid making cuts that would otherwise be needed in the coming year - it will for example enable us to maintain the current levels of neighbourhood policing this year, which I know is valued by, and a priority for, our communities.

“I will reflect on the panel’s recommendation of how the precept is distributed across policing and my office.”

Mr Lane added there were no immediate plans to appoint a deputy commissioner. Former Portsmouth MP Flick Drummond left the post after a matter of weeks in October, with the pair admitting they did not properly get on.

John Apter, chair of Hampshire Police Federation, said: “If there is to be any increase in funding, every penny must go into policing. I would urge the commissioner to take it on board.”