Budget cuts hurting rural policing says Lancs Police & Crime Commissioner
Budget cuts across the board all have an impact on policing, according to Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner, who has expressed concern at authorities' 'ever-reducing resources' following the release of the National Rural Crime Survey.
Growing demand to address issues which require responses from not only police but a range of authorities from local councils to environment agencies is placing more pressure on police services according to Clive Grunshaw, the county's Police and Crime Commissioner, who has highlighted the need for more 'partnership working' to tackle rural crime.
The National Rural Crime Survey, released yesterday, revealed that the two more reported issues in Lancashire were fly tipping (reported by 50% of respondents) and speeding (by 34%), with criminal damage (10%) and theft (9%) also ranking relatively highly.
"This survey shows that concerns about rural crime are a real issue in the county," said Commissioner Grunshaw. "I will be working with the Constabulary to understand how we can improve the service with the ever-reducing resources available to us.
"The fact that the main issues aren't just for the police does show the impact that cuts across the public sector have on our communities," he added. "For years I have been saying that cuts to council services, and other partners, impact on the police."
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While local authorities and the environment agency are responsible for dealing with fly tipping, the police - through the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership - work closely with councils and other partners to tackle speeding.
Superintendent Julian Platt, Lancashire Constabulary's lead on rural crime, said: "Lancashire Constabulary have a strong policing offer for rural communities. However, we realise that the backdrop of austerity has the potential to increase rural vulnerability and rural deprivation."
Highlighting the importance of specially-trained local officers and necessary provision, such as 4x4 vehicles to make sure officers can extend their reach to communities further afield, Superintendent Platt added: "Strong partnership working ensures we are more effective; by working together we can keep the whole county safe."
Commissioned by the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN), the survey needs to be a 'wake-up call for those in positions of power', according to Julia Mulligan, Chair of the NRCN, who added: “The NRCN will continue to fight for rural communities, who should not have to put up with sub-standard services just because of where they live. This simply cannot be tolerated."