City crime rises amid police cuts

Clive Grunshaw police and crime commissioner
Clive Grunshaw police and crime commissioner

Crime has risen by 8.3 per cent in the Lancaster area, according to new figures.

Recorded crimes in Lancaster rose from 3,875 in 2012/13 to 4,197 in 2013/14.

In the last five years, the number of police officers, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), and other staff based in Lancaster and Wyre – including in roles like public protection, community safety and road policing – has fallen by 40 per cent.

The number fell from 539 at the end of the 2009/10 financial year to 323 at the end of March 2014.

Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, obtained the figures following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, and said that the increase in crime was directly linked to police job cuts. Theofficial police figures have been viewed by the Guardian.

She said: “After years of falling crime, this significant and worrying increase shows the Conservative-led Coalition’s reckless cuts are putting the safety of people in Lancaster at risk.

“While we all want to see well-run and efficient public services, no organisation can lose 40 per cent of its staff without there being a real impact on the frontline – let alone in just two areas of its patch, Lancaster and Wyre.

“When Labour was last in power we brought back the bobby on the beat and that was enormously successful in preventing crime from happening, but this ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach is increasingly vulnerable.”

Government grants to Lancashire Constabulary fell by more than £14m from £217m in 2011/12 to £203m in the current year.Ms Smith said the figure did not take into account inflation. Other figures suggest that more offenders are getting away with their crimes. Detection rates in Lancaster fell from 44 per cent in 2011/12 to 36.9 per cent in 2013/14. Lancs Police were not available to comment.