Restructuring sparks fears over traditional police role

Re-structuring of the county's police force
Re-structuring of the county's police force

Fears have been raised Fleetwood will be left with fewer officers on the streets as a result of re-structuring of the county’s police force.

And that would mean a reduced visible deterrent in the fight against crime in the port, with the traditional role of the bobby on the beat a thing of the past.

Their place will be taken by community support officers, with police instead working in ‘response units’, covering much wider areas than their previous wards.

In the face of savage cutbacks to Lancashire’s police force, the neighbourhood policing team is being re-structured to a “neighbourhood policing response model”,

It means that Community Beat Managers (CBMs), who have traditionally policed their own wards, will now have wider areas to cover beyond just their assigned beats.

PCSOs will now be taking a larger role in community engagement instead.

While the work of PCSOs is much valued in Fleetwood the move – expected to be brought in later this year – is causing concerns.

However, Fleetwood-based Inspector Jo Jackson has reassured residents that the plans, already being trialled in Fylde, will not have any detrimental effect on police work.

Ivor Bould, chairman of Fleetwood Neighbourhood Watch, said: “I think it is worrying when the levels of officers on our streets could be further reduced than they already are, if these officers get pulled away elsewhere.

“We have already seen the number of police officers cut back in Lancashire.

“But to face the prospect of actual officers being taken away on other duties, out of their community areas, is a big worry.”

Insp Jackson said: “It is a model we are looking at, but we will see how well things work on Fylde first,

“The police are facing significant cutbacks and while no police officer welcomes that, we have to look at new ways of working which are still effective.

“There will not be any actual reduction of police officers and in fact we will have three new PCSOs in Wyre by June.

“It just means that where certain jobs can be handled in another way, it frees up the CBMs to help with front line policing, in a dual role, and that makes sense.

“I can understand people’s concerns but the numbers of officers is not being reduced.”

A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: “There will still be officers assigned to their wards, but they will be more mobile and will also work in a response capacity, responding to more calls for service and dealing with vulnerability and demand as it comes in. “There are currently 13 CBMs in Wyre and 13 PCSOs, covering am area stretching out up to Garstang and into the villages beyond, as well as Fleetwood, Thornton, Cleveleys, Poulton and Over Wyre. Around 700 officer posts have gone since 2009.