Police in Lancashire have accused MP Nigel Evans of “hypocrisy almost beyond belief” after he slammed the force for neglecting rural areas of the county.
The member for Ribble Valley has called for Lancashire Constabulary to put more officers into the countryside to stem a rise in crime.
But his comments have infuriated the county’s Police Federation who insist drastic cutbacks by Mr Evans’ own Tory Government have robbed Lancashire Constabulary of 700 officers since 2010.
“He would be better-placed raising his concerns with his party leader,” stormed Steve Rothwell, the vice-chairman of the Federation based at Hutton. “The former Home Secretary (Theresa May) imposed the dramatic and unrealistic funding cuts on policing and now the public are seeing that cuts have consequences.
“But rather than speak to the current Prime Minister or Home Secretary about the importance of funding the police service correctly, he chooses to blame the force and question the Chief Constable.”
Mr Evans, who lives in the Ribble Valley, made his comments last week after the publication of a survey by the National Rural Crime Network showed an alarming rise in offences in the countryside.
“Some people think that crime doesn’t happen in rural areas and that needs to stop,” he said. “These figures show that crimes that are committed in rural areas need to be treated as seriously as those that happen in urban areas. I would hope that the police are able to put more resources into rural areas.”
But Steve Rothwell countered: “Unfortunately Mr Evans was not this vocal when we contacted him prior to the cuts, predicting the impact they would have on policing in Lancashire. I recall being told: ‘Stop crying wolf.’ Sadly, as predicted, the wolf is now knocking at his door.”