Angry Padiham town councillors and residents have accused Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw of delivering “policing on the cheap.’’
A resident also claimed that many people felt that Padiham had no backing or support from the police, saying: “You never see a police officer in Padiham anymore and I feel like we are begging for some support. We should not have to beg’.’
The criticism was levelled at Mr Grunshaw when he spoke at a meeting of Padiham Town Council on Monday. Coun. Bob Clark made the “policing on the cheap’’ claim after hearing that budget cuts of £43M had forced Lancashire Constabulary to lose 700 police officers and to cope with the shortfall a major recruitment drive to encourage more “special’’ police officers and police cadets has been launched. The force is also encouraging the public and local authorities to work with it on a voluntary basis.
Coun. Clark said: “It makes no sense to me at all to cut the jobs of 700 highly trained officers and replace them with volunteers.
“It will cost to re-train these people and you are relying on public spirited people to police Lancashire. This is policing on the cheap and I fear the worst is yet to come.’’
Mr Grunshaw said he was “bemused’’ by this claim as Lancashire was rated as among the top five forces among 43 in the UK for delivering services.
He said: “These cuts have been forced on us by the Government and we now have to provide a service to the public with the resources we have.
“We currently have 450 special officers in Lancashire which we hope to increase to 600 and the cadet scheme has been a huge success. The professionalism and work ethic of these people is admirable.’’
Mr Grunshaw said more police and community support officers had been drafted in to work “on the beat’’ and work with the public. Shift patterns had been altered to offer more flexibility for officers on duty and to be on the front line of policing.
He said: “There are dedicated PCSOs for the Padiham area and I believe they have built up a good working relationship with the public. This is in response to people’s concerns across the county that they would like to see more ‘bobbies on the beat’. “
Another resident called for police to have a “larger footprint’’ in Padiham to provide more reassurance for residents. The resident said: “Quite often you cannot get hold of the police on the phone and that is frustrating for people especially if a crime is in progress.’’
Anti-social behaviour and domestic violence are also the two main issues the public are worried about and Mr Grunshaw said these were being tackled head on. Early intervention measures were in place to prevent young people from getting involved in crime and anti-social behaviour.
But Mr Grunshaw warned that further swinging cuts were on the way as Lancashire has to shed a further £20M from its budget in the future.