Crime surge linked to drop in police on beat

A reduction in  PCSOs in Wyre has raised concerns.
A reduction in PCSOs in Wyre has raised concerns.

A community leader from Fleetwood has voiced fears a reduction in PCSO numbers is having an impact on crime in the town.

And Coun Ivor Bould is calling for more street patrols now that residents are being asked to pay a 1.99 per cent rise in policing costs on their council tax bills, and news comes of 100 new police recruits in Lancashire.

Last year, the number of PCSOs on the beat in Fleetwood were almost halved after a funding arrangement with Wyre Council came to an end and this was linked to a surge in shoplifting, bike theft and criminal damage.

And just two weeks ago Fleetwood’s Greenfield Road was hit by a vandal spree when windows on six cars were smashed.

Residents there have spoken of how they are “sitting ducks” to waves of criminal damage after a similar spree there last October.

Coun Bould says: “We used to have 10 PCSOs in Fleetwood, two for each ward, now we have half that. It should surprise no-one that it is affecting things like damage and nuisance.

“We cannot just sit back and ignore it, when people’s lives are being affected.

“The extra police money should be spent correctly.”

One resident on Greenfield Road, who did not wish to be named, said: “I had my car windscreen smashed twice and the wing mirror broken.

“That has cost me £275 but I can’t pay off the insurance because the premiums will rocket. More police patrols here would help.”

Another resident said: “Our car was damaged twice and now I have to park it a long way from the house, and I’m a pensioner. We’re sitting ducks. We would love more patrols or at least some of the alleyways onto this estate blocked off.”

However, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, is unable to say whether any more officers will be made available in Fleetwood.

He added: “I have always said I am committed to prioritising frontline policing, and that remains the case. The situation in Wyre has not been helped by Wyre Council’s decision to cut its funding for PCSOs last year. We have already had £60m taken off us by the Government and I still have £19.2m of savings to find – as a result of that I can’t promise more officers.”

Mr Grunshaw did announce last week that 100 new officers are to be recruited, but he said this was set against the impending loss of 700 officers by 2017 due to cutbacks, and the new recruits were only intended to ensure that more than 700 officers weren’t lost.