Crime on increase as beat cops cut

'Reckless cutbacks putting Fleetwood people at risk'
'Reckless cutbacks putting Fleetwood people at risk'

The impact in Fleetwood and Wyre of Government cutbacks to policing is laid bare with stark figures showing a notable increase in crime.

And community leaders say it is all down to a reduction in community policing out on the streets which they have been warning about for the last two years.

Recorded crimes in Wyre rose from 4,705 in 2012/13 to 5,284 in 2013/14 after Government funding cuts forced Lancashire Police to shed jobs.

In the five years since the Conservative-led Coalition Government came to power, the number of police officers, PCSOs and other staff based in Wyre and Lancaster – including in roles like public protection, community safety and road policing – has fallen by 40 per cent.

The number fell from 539 at the end of the 2009/10 financial year to 323 at the end of March 2014.

Government grants to Lancashire Constabulary fell by more than £14m from £217m in 2011/12 to £203m in the current year – without taking into account inflation.

The Lancashire force is having to make massive savings as a result.

Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, obtained the figures following a Freedom of Information request.

She said that while dedicated police officers and staff did a “fantastic” job in difficult circumstances, the figures showed that job cuts caused by Government budget reductions were undermining their hard work.

Ms Smith said: “After years of falling crime, this significant and worrying increase shows the Conservative-led Coalition’s reckless cuts are putting the safety of people in Fleetwood and the whole of Wyre at risk.

“While we all want to see well-run and efficient public services, no organisation can lose 40 per cent of its staff without there being a real impact on the frontline – let alone in just two areas of its patch, Lancaster and Wyre.

“When Labour was last in power we brought back the bobby on the beat and that was enormously successful in preventing crime from happening, but this ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach is increasingly vulnerably due to the Government’s cuts.”

Other figures suggest that more offenders are getting away with their crimes.

Detection rates in Wyre fell from 42.3 per cent in 2012/13 to 37 per cent in 2013/14.

Back in September, Lancashire Police Federation chairman Rachel Baines said: “There is still £20m to find, which is only going to see further cuts to the front line.”

Ivor Bould, chairman of Fleetwood Neighbourhood Watch, said: “These figures come as no surprise, we raised concerns about this as soon as the cuts came in.”

And Coun Terry Rogers, Wyre’s executive PACT member for Fleetwood, said: “I share these concerns and in particular the lack of police officers on the streets of Fleetwood.

“For people in this town, the area that concerns them most is community policing, and the areas of crime that are rising in our area is damage to cars, anti-social behaviour and theft from shops.

“I know it’s about cuts in resources and funding, and those cutbacks are a major worry, but we need to see neighbourhood policing and people have a right to demand that those funds are available are spent in the right way.”

Coun Rogers added that the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw, had been invited to the Fleetwood Town Council meet in late January to talk about how police resources were being spent.

He said members of the public were welcome to attend and would be able to ask questions.