Police cuts lead to ‘no pro-active policing’

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Garstang and Over Wyre Police have revealed that the impact of police cuts is “likely to see the removal of pretty much any pro-active policing.”

In a statement last month Lancashire Police revealed that since 2009, due to austerity cuts, the force has lost 800 police officers and 560 police staff, which has had an effect on the number of officers now stationed at Garstang and Over Wyre and means local police management is now shared between Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Chairman of the Lancashire Police Federation, Rachel Baines has said the government is gambling with the public’s safety.

She said: “This will not only mean the end of the police service as we know it, but could have devastating consequences for the public.”

In a comment made by Garstang Police on their Facebook page officers said: “We are trying to do our best as a local team but we are noticing the impact of the cuts ourselves as well.

“The unfortunate thing, is that the next round of cost cutting is likely to see the removal of pretty much any pro-active policing.

“What it means in real terms is that we’ll be responding to requests for assistance where possible but will not have the numbers available for snooping around, trying to disrupt criminals before they commit crime.

“Difficult times for policing and hugely disappointing from our point of view.

“We’ll always try to do our best, but I genuinely think the cuts are only just starting to be felt and its likely to get, and feel worse going forward.”

This latest statement from Garstang and Over Wyre Police follows a warning by the County’s Police Federation who last December said that a further £3.2 million is to be cut from the police budget as the government had announced plans for a 5 per cent reduction to budgets across all police forces in England and Wales.

But Lancashire Police Federation says that it fears for the safety of the public if Lancashire Constabulary is forced to take further cuts. In 2009 Lancashire had 3650 police officers; this figure is predicted to fall to 2400 by 2021, meaning a loss of 1250 officers.

Garstang and Over Wyre now have two community beat managers, one PCSO, a Sergeant and a Special Constable. A spokesperson from Lancashire Constabulary said: “With regards to policing management – it isn’t a straightforward operation.

“Immediate response officers, come from Lancaster, and the Neighbourhood Police Team sit at Fleetwood... additional resources are deployed as and when needed.”

Federation chiefs have launched a county wide campaign to oppose the level of the coalition cuts insisting they are too deep, a statement which County Councillor for Garstang Sandra Perkins agrees with.

Coun Perkins said: “How on earth are officers expected to honour their allegiance to the Queen and country is beyond me.

“They are trying their best but Garstang and Over Wyre police have a 200 square mile area to cover, it is utterly unacceptable.

“I have tried to make an appointment with the Police Commissioner and someone said that he would get back to me but he hasn’t.

“We need men and women on the ground, not people sat behind desks, the police are now reactive, not pro active.

“We are an open door for criminals. It is ludicrous.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire said: “Councillor Perkins contacted my office to arrange a meeting. When my team tried to arrange this she was unfortunately unwell. She got back in touch last week and I will be meeting with her soon.

“In the meantime may I assure the people of Garstang, that our officers will continue to be there when you need them to keep you safe of risk, threat and harm.

“The reduction in police numbers has long been in the public domain and is as a direct result of cuts to budgets made by the Government.”

Rachel Baines added: “If anyone tries to assure the public that losing over 1,250 police officers is not going to have an effect on frontline policing then they are deluded. “People are going to see a vast reduction in the visible presence of police on the streets, that will mean fewer officers to respond to incidents and also a big reduction in neighbourhood policing.

“There will have to be a reduction in the level of service we can offer, some incidents will simply not be responded to.

“This is not what the public of Lancashire deserve.”