Police draft in staff from Colne to tackle crime wave in Longridge

Police are being drafted in from Colne in East Lancashire to help tackle a crime wave in Longridge.

By Fiona Finch
Thursday, 7th July 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th July 2022, 12:27 pm

Longridge was still "very safe", Ribble Valley police officer Sgt Kevin Day reassured town residents last night that as they expressed outrage over repeated smash and grab break-ins at shops and commercial premises in recent weeks.

They are also frustrated at the lack of an obvious police presence in the town.

Sgt Day had been invited to speak to the annual town meeting of Longridge Town Council to give an update on policing locally.

Numerous Longridge businesses have had doors and windows smashed - this is the damaged window at Berry Lane Newsagent

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Longridge shopkeepers call for greater police presence after smash and grab raid...

Nearly 100 people attended the meeting, many from local shops and businesses, with several people speaking out about fears for their premises or safety after the serial break-ins on the town's main street Berry Lane.

The overnight raids began at the start of June and the offenders, thought to be addicts looking for petty cash, have left a trail of smashed doors and windows.

Earlier this week the tally of break-ins had reached 11 - with the offenders returning to the YMCA charity shop on Berry Lane twice.

Newsagent Mustak Chhadat pictured outside the boarded up window of his business on Berry Lane

Sgt Day acknowledged the police are frustrated by the repeat offences and said they had collected CCTV records and taken forensic evidence, including a blood sample for DNA testing and some fingerprints.

They had also brought in extra overnight help from staff in Colne.

He said: “We believe we know who’s doing it. We have to follow the evidence... We really are trying hard because I’ll tell you one thing they won’t stop.

"These are people trying to feed habits. They are not master criminals.”

He added: ”We have some leads … we’re trying to do what we can with the resources available.”

Challenged about shortage of police officers and no police cars being seen for long periods of time overnight on Berry Lane, he said some staff had volunteered to extend their shifts to patrol the area.

Calls were made for the Police and Crime Commissioner to be invited to a future meeting of the council.

One man attending the meeting asked: “Ribble Valley is 10 times bigger than Preston. Why is the (Longridge) police station not open?”

A local businesswoman said: "I don’t want to be scared to walk home. I’m quite frightened.

"I’ve worked all over and I’ve never been as frightened as I am now in Longridge.

"I think it’s horrendous, something needs to be done.”Sgt Day urged the public to ring 999 to get a quick police response to an ongoing incident and said: "If you see someone trying doors, ring 999, especially considering what is going on now.

"We’ve got a response time to get to it within 10 minutes, that’s what we’ve got to aim for.”

But he acknowledged there are challenges with that timeframe and available resources in a geographically wide area like Ribble Valley.

After the meeting, Tom Jackson, properietor of Applejacks microbar, said: “I’ve actually stayed in my business four nights. It needs more police in Longridge.”

Newsagent Mustak Chhadat said his window is still boarded up after one of the break-ins and would cost £3,000 to repair.

He said: “I’ve got a quote. We are scared to replace it until they’re caught.

"Every day you have the feeling is it going to be (done) again.”