Council Tax payers across the Thames Valley will have to pay more to be policed this year - as the force struggles to make a further £15million worth of savings over the next three years.

But much publicised fears that the iconic mounted horse section and the dog section could be badly hit have been eased - although only for the time being.

Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said the force had had to cope with a £99m cut in its budget in the last seven years.

He said: "We have now reached the stage that any further cuts would have a fundamental impact on the front line.

"Before I made a decision on the level of council tax I sought the views of residents in the Thames Valley and out of 5,600 people surveyed nearly 85 per cent agreed to an increase in Council Tax to fund policing."

He said he had made the decision to increase the police element of the Council Tax by £12 for the equivalent of a Band D property.

Chief Constable Francis Habgood presented a financial plan to Mr Stansfeld at a public meeting at the force's headquarters in Oxford Road, Kidlington, today.

Chief Constable Habgood welcomed the commissioner's decision to increase the police's share of the Council Tax Precept for 2018/19, subject to approval by the Police and Crime Panel.

He said: "We need to find and will find savings of about £15 million over the next three years. Thames Valley Police already has a great track record in improving efficiency.

"We have already saved about £99 million since 2010. That is almost a quarter of the budget for next year."

He said that no decision had been made yet about the long term future of the Mounted Section - although he confirmed it was safe until summer 2019.

He admitted police officers had asked if alternative ways could not be found to fund the iconic service and options would be considered.

Thames Valley also has more dog handlers and dogs than equivalent forces which will have to be reviewed, while vacancies in the road policing unit will not be filled.

He said: "We will always be required to make tough decisions about how best to shape our organisation. We have to both deliver today, and also plan for the future to ensure we continue to keep the communities of Thames Valley safe."

The budget will now go to the Police and Crime Panel on the 2 February for final ratification.