Lancaster’s police chief has reassured residents that their safety will not be affected by police cuts.
Chief Supt Richard Bayly said that despite being forced to make savings of almost £43m by 2015, members of the public in the Lancaster district will continue to see a high quality service.
Lancashire Constabulary has closed 14 front counters, including Garstang, as part of a review sparked by the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
The force has also cut 550 officers and 250 police staff cut across Lancashire.
“We are not complaining about it because we understand that the country is in significant financial difficulty,” Chief Supt Bayly said.
“In order to find the savings, we have reviewed every single bit of our business to ensure we are maximising our efficiencies to sustain ourselves as one of the top performing forces in the country.”
A recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary showed a four per cent reduction in all crime in the county between December 2010 and December 2011, higher than other parts of England and Wales.
In addition, satisfaction within the community – which is assessed independently – points to people in Lancaster being more pleased with their policing than ever.
“My police force is totally committed to protecting, helping and serving the community,” the chief said.
“It’s difficult times as it is for everybody and we are not sheltered from that but my officers are performing in an absolutely fantastic way.”
Chief Supt Bayly also allayed fears that Carnforth Police Station was to close.
Rumours spread on Tuesday that the volunteer-run front counter had been closed, but the chief superintendent said this was not the case.
“There will continue to be a police presence in Carnforth,” he said. “The volunteers there do a magnificent job and will continue to do that – it’s business as usual.”
He said the police were in discussion with Lancashire Fire over the possibility of sharing a building in Carnforth with the fire service.
Stations in Over Kellet and Caton – currently used as stop-off bases for officers – could also be sold off.
“We have closed some of our rural police stations but we haven’t used them as operational bases for a number of years,” Chief Supt Bayley said.
“We don’t need these stations to deliver the service – we could keep those buildings or keep the officers; I have to balance the books and my emphasis is to sustain the most police officers that we can.
“We are continuing to target rural crime and are looking at the issues that affect the rural community.
“We are working with the rural community and other bodies to solve some of the issues there.”
Chief Supt Bayley said he was confident that policing across the Lancaster district would continue to flourish, despite the financial setbacks.
“Our neighbourhood policing teams are still at the heart of policing in Lancaster, and despite the cuts the teams have increased in size because we have balanced our resources,” he said.
“It’s the heart of what we do and how we deliver community policing.
“Please be reassured because we are working flat out to protect the public.
“We are constantly reviewing how we can improve our services.
“2012/13 will be a challenging year but we are up for the challenge and I am confident that we will succeed.”