Crime in Hyndburn will ‘inevitably’ increase following budget and officer cuts, Lancashire’s police chief has warned.
Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw says 700 police officers and staff have been lost in Lancashire as part of force cuts of £60 million, and warns they are now reaching a ‘tipping point’.
Mr Grunshaw was invited to speak at Hyndburn’s full council meeting last week, where he also revealed:
The force is facing ‘the biggest restructure in its history’.
The new Accrington police station is currently on hold.
Government claims that front line policing had been protected were not true.
Mr Grunshaw told council members crime would start to increase as a result of cuts in the number of police officers.
He said: “Crime at some point will start to increase. It is inevitable that will happen.
“We don’t want to be in a situation then where we have people that are on the streets and don’t have the capacity to deal with those issues.
“You can only take so many police officers away before the public or the criminals will notice.
“We can’t afford to get into that situation. I think it’s incumbent upon us to protect what we can.” Mr Grunshaw criticised Prime Minister David Cameron for claiming there was no reason for fewer frontline police officers up and down the country.
He said: “It’s easy for Mr Cameron to say there won’t be any reduction in frontline policing. What we have achieved is a higher percentage of officers working on the front line because we have taken more cuts from the back office.
“It has been said that there are more officers on the front line. That’s not true, there are fewer officers on the front line - it’s just there is a higher percentage of them because of where the cuts have come from.”
Mr Grunshaw said the force restructure will see six divisions set to be reduced to three including the merger of Eastern and Pennine Divisions.
He warned that while there is a lot of ‘good will’ from officers there were concerns over morale and an increase in sickness absence.
However, Tory group leader Peter Britcliffe accused the ruling Labour group of using Mr Grunshaw’s visit for ‘government bashing’.
Speaking after the meeting he said: “All that we saw happen was an excuse for some coalition government bashing and pro-Labour propaganda by both the crime commissioner and councillors.
“Crime is falling in Lancashire.
“The number of police losses has been greatly exaggerated and the reality is that Hyndburn is as well policed as it ever was.”