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Berry Jake 2Jake Berry is the Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen. Follow Jake on Twitter.

Figures
revealed recently show ten forces spent £1.5m on the perk for top officers from
their “hard pressed police budgets" in 2011; enough to pay for over 60 new
Police Constables or 95 new PCSOs.

As Conservatives
we should rightly be proud of our commitment to increase the NHS budget in each
year of this parliament. However, for us to achieve this in the current
constrained fiscal environment, other budgets have to be carefully managed. The Police budget
has been no exception, with rank and file officers having to accept a once-in-a-generation change in pay and conditions, to balance the books and keep police
on the front line.

Given all of this,
it is an affront to every taxpayer that top officers receive free private
health care. If the NHS is good enough for a bobby on the beat, injured
in the line of duty, it is good enough for the top officers sat behind their
desks.

The election of Police
and Crime Commissioners is a chance to ensure that the Conservative principle
of paying taxes to support the NHS is upheld; this should not extend to
taxpayers paying private health premiums – after all why should we pay for the
same thing twice?

This is why I
have written to every Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate
asking them to commit, when the opportunity arises, to stop taxpayers funding
private healthcare in police forces.

If top officers
taking home their six figure salaries wish to purchase private health cover, they are of course free to do so – but don't ask the taxpayer to foot the
bill.

This is among the
last vestiges of Labour’s Age of public sector excess; Conservative Police and
Crime Commissioner candidates have the opportunity to end this unnecessary
taxpayer funded perk.

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