New police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw has pledged to be the new ‘public voice’ for the rural community - and in a move to reassure residents over fears of a rise in rural crime has repeated his committment to protecting the jobs of police community support officers.
Mr Grunshaw said his role was to listen to the public and spoke of his determination to tackle the fears of residents living in isolated areas.
Speaking alongside Lancashire Constabulary Chief Constable Steve Finnigan at a event for policing students at UCLan, he said the role marked a “new era” for policing in Lancashire and promised a continuation of the constabulary’s “excellent service.”
He said: “People will have a public voice on the things that matter to you. The role of PC is to engage and listen and I want to be a strong voice.”
He stressed the challenges ahead as the constabulary continues cuts as part of a £43m programme which will see 550 police officers and 250 staff lost by 2015.
But, he added, with strong working relationships he remained positive of upholding the excellent reputation of neighbourhood policing and praised the forces’ resilience against “tough financial pressures.”
Addressing the fears of residents over police visibility in the rural districts, he said: “About the county I am told how much communities value their PCSOs and the great work they do, especially in the rural and more isolated areas.
“I have given my committment and so long as the districts can continue with their part-match funding we will do our best to make sure they remain.
“I am looking forward to building positive relationships with all the leaders of the district councils and would like to think we all have the same aims when it comes to such an important part of community policing.”
Mr Grunshaw - who is a Wyre councillor and member of Lancashire County Council - added he would be meeting with Wyre Council leader Peter Gibson and chief executive Garry Payne today (Wednesday 28) to discuss a range of issues, including the council’s part- funding of the borough’s 10 PCSOs.
Lancashire Constabulary have their funding for PCSOs ring-fenced until April.
The £110,000 contribution currently made by Wyre Council is also up for review early next year.
Speaking ahead of today’s meeting Coun Peter Gibson, Leader of Wyre Council, said: “I fully support the work of PCSOs in Wyre and am hoping to work positively with Mr Grunshaw to ensure a fair deal for Wyre residents when it comes to funding them.”
On Monday Mr Grunshaw met for the first time with members of the new police and crime panel, he added meetings would be lined up over the next few weeks for all the district councils.