Crime rise link to PCSO jobs cutback

File photo dated 02/11/11 of a generic photo of police officers as the police are poised to bring in private companies to investigate crimes and patrol neighbourhoods, it was reported today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday March 3, 2012. Two forces, West Midlands and Surrey, are asking security firms to bid for contracts, worth �1.5bn over seven years, to run some services that are currently carried out by officers, according to the Guardian. See PA story POLITICS Police. Photo credit should read: David Cheskin/PA Wire
File photo dated 02/11/11 of a generic photo of police officers as the police are poised to bring in private companies to investigate crimes and patrol neighbourhoods, it was reported today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday March 3, 2012. Two forces, West Midlands and Surrey, are asking security firms to bid for contracts, worth �1.5bn over seven years, to run some services that are currently carried out by officers, according to the Guardian. See PA story POLITICS Police. Photo credit should read: David Cheskin/PA Wire

A leading police officer believes the loss of 11 PCSOs in Fleetwood and Wyre is a factor in the rise of certain crimes in the port.

Insp Steve Bell, the Fleetwood-based geographic inspector for Wyre, says the police community support officers played a key role in helping to combat “low level” crime – and their withdrawal on funding grounds has left a gap.

Shoplifting, purse theft, cycle thefts and criminal damage have risen 10 per cent in Fleetwood this year.

The issue came under the spotlight this week after Coun Terry Rogers, the executive PACT member for Wyre Council in Fleetwood, raised concerns at full council about a recent spate of criminal damage in Fleetwood – and said he had been inundated by messages from worried residents.

It follows recent damage to boats in Jubilee Quay, paint splashed on a wall on St Peter’s Place and a garden wall kicked down on Grange Road, coinciding with burglary and damage to five beach 
chalets last week.

Insp Bell said the loss of the PCSOs was a factor in the recent crime levels, although he was keen to stress the rise in crime in Fleetwood needed to be seen against a wider background.

He pointed out the rise in low level crime this year came after a record low for such crimes in 2012, and also stressed there had been an actual fall in Fleetwood this year in “high level” crime such as violent offending (down by one per cent) and burglary in dwellings (down by 31 per cent).

However, he admitted: “PCSOs have been key in Fleetwood and Wyre when it comes to having a visible presence, deterrence and engagement with the community.

“This year we have lost 11 PCSOs in Wyre because funding came to an end.

“In addition to that, when individuals have left, they have not been replaced due to the current financial climate.

“That will have had an impact on crime.”

Coun Rogers said constituents have asked him if there are enough police patrols in Fleetwood.

It prompted him to seek urgent talks with local authorities as soon as possible.

He told the Weekly News: “They are saying to me ‘where are the police?’ and I can’t just ignore that.