Lancashire’s policing chief today pledged he remains committed to keeping communities safe – despite growing fears about a drop in police numbers in towns across the Fylde coast.
Police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw met councillors at Fylde Town Hall, to discuss concerns about an increase in crime in rural parts of the borough.
Mr Grunshaw said he had a “resolute commitment” to continuing the delivery of neighbourhood policing, despite the closure of Lytham police station and worries about officers now starting their shifts in Blackpool.
It also comes following concerns raised by Lancashire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Rhodes in The Gazette earlier this year, that millions of pounds of further budget cuts could hit neighbourhood policing.
Mr Grunshaw added: “It is no secret the police budget is shrinking, and there have had to be changes to the way our towns and villages are policed.
“The officers are having briefings at different police stations, but immediately after that they are heading out into their communities, and they are now spending more time visible and on the beat.”
Police officer numbers in Lancashire swelled to 3,753 in 2009, but latest official figures show the number now stands at 3,074 – 731 of them in western division, which covers Fylde – with a further 51 jobs forecast to go by March.
Mr Grunshaw said two new community beat managers had been added to the south Fylde’s police force in recent weeks, and promised an improvement to the service provided by the non-emergency 101 number.
He added: “I accept the 101 non-emergency line has been a big issue for the force in terms of residents being able to get through, and it is something I demanded improvement on over the summer. I have been monitoring it closely through regular scrutiny meetings, and I am pleased to say it is improving.
“For many people, their only contact with the police might be when they phone 101, and there is no excuse for them not to receive a high standard of service.”
Coun Cheryl Little, Fylde Council’s cabinet member for social wellbeing, welcomed Mr Grunshaw’s comments.
She said: “It was a really positive meeting. Many councillors have been concerned about the closure of the police station in Lytham and the lack of officers on the beat, as well as the service provided by the 101 non-emergency number.
“The meeting was well attended, in particular by councillors from rural Fylde, and I felt Mr Grunshaw took many suggestions on board.”
After the meeting, Mr Grunshaw promised to visit Kirkham at the request of Coun Liz Oades, and speak to residents.