Barnoldswick & Earby Time, Colne Times and Nelson Leader Column: Friday 4th Januray 2019

My Local Newspaper Column 04/01/19

A series of burglaries and car thefts in the run up to Christmas have given rise to concerns about rising crime locally.

In September I spent an 8hour shift out with Lancashire Police, responding to incidents from Colne Police Station. I’ve been out on shifts with our local police before and regularly meet officers to be briefed on local issues or raise residents concern with them, so I appreciate the challenges they face. The expectation of the public for policing has changed substantially over the past decade, with rising complex crimes such as online fraud, child sexual exploitation and domestic abuse.

A growing amount of officer time is also now spent helping to safeguard vulnerable people, such as missing children, people suffering from mental ill health and vulnerable adults. What hasn’t changed is the commitment of officers to prevent crime and keep the public safe and I saw that again first hand when out with them. The police do need more resources and I will always work to ensure that the police have the powers and resources to keep our communities safe.

In December the government announced that we will increase funding available to Police & Crime
Commissioners by up to £813m, if PCCs use their precept flexibility fully. This is the biggest annual increase since 2010. Combined with increases in Counter Terrorism police funding and investments in serious and organised crime this means an increase in total police funding in 2019/20 by around £970m. This is only possible because of the governments balanced approach to public finances – keeping debt falling so we can spend more on vital services like the police, not debt interest. 

However, I recognise that the police still face significant financial pressures next year. The government have committed to work with the police on four key areas next year that drive efficiency and effectiveness: delivering on the police’s ambition to procure efficiently and share back office services; working more productively, including through digital mobile working; filling the major capability gaps the independent inspectorate has identified in detectives and investigations; and supporting coordinated work to tackle serious and organised crime.

In the forthcoming Spending Review, I will be pushing the Government to invest more in policing and making our communities safer and I’ll continue to support our local officers in dealing with these recent incidents.