A new survey carried out by Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner has revealed that the public want the county's constabulary to prioritise tackling child abuse and sexual exploitation cases.
In response to increased pressure on the service caused by what he calls "huge budget cuts", the commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, launched the online survey over the summer and visited every district across Lancashire to ask residents their views on policing priorities to inform his Police and Crime Plan, which sets out how the police and community partners work together.
When asked to prioritise police issues, 91% ranked tackling child abuse and sexual exploitation as a high priority, closely followed by investigating serious crime (90%), combating terrorism and extremism (78%), and tackling domestic abuse and violence (72%). Patrolling areas with low levels of crime was a priority for just 8% of respondents.
“Year-on-year, we have less money to deliver policing in Lancashire which is understandably affecting people's confidence that police will be there for them," said commissioner Grunshaw. "Many of the people I spoke with over the summer were very sympathetic and at pains to point out that they don’t blame the police, rather they believe they are doing the best with the resources they have."
Despite cuts resulting in there being 800 fewer officers and 350 fewer police staff than in 2010, a recent Office of National Statistics crime survey has revealed that overall confidence in Lancashire Police stands at 77%, with 72% of people believing police understand local concerns and 63% saying Lancashire Police can be relied on.
"Almost half of people asked thought that all things considered, the police did a good job and more than half would be confident if they approached police with a problem, they would take action," Mr Grunshaw added. "With government not providing any extra resources but passing the burden onto council tax payers, growing demand, and a further £18m to find by 2022, Lancashire’s police service will continue to have to adapt.
"With fewer officers and resources it is even more important to ensure that our plans meet operational needs but also public priorities. I'm pleased with the response to the survey and it's clear from the results the public take a keen interest in the work of Lancashire Police.
"Improved engagement and communication with communities will go a long way to improving perceptions of the force and understanding of the work being done," he continued. "Overall, when members of the public do have a need to contact police, it is reassuring to know that the vast majority of people are satisfied with the service they receive."