Crime rise fears over police cuts

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The huge impact of widespread cuts to police was today blamed for a major rise in crime across Blackpool.

Latest figures set to be put before council bosses next week reveal crime across the resort has soared by almost eight per cent – close to 500 crimes – in the past three months compared to the same period last year.

Violent crime, sex offences, anti-social behaviour, car crime and criminal damage have all risen between April and August. Robbery and burglary are up a huge 26.5 per cent – an increase of 72 crimes.

Today police union bosses and victims of crime have criticised cuts in police presence – with rank-and-file officers claiming the soaring offence rate was always likely to happen.

And they have raised fears further cuts due to hit the force will only make the situation worse.

Rachel Baines, chairman of the Lancashire Police Federation, said: “These statistics don’t surprise me at all unfortunately.

“We’ve always said 20 per cent cuts to policing is too much and that you will eventually see that impacting on crime figures, which is starting to happen now.

“There needs to be investment in policing and certainly not further reductions.”

The figures, due to be presented to a full council meeting at Blackpool Town Hall next Thursday, show crime increased in the resort by 7.7 per cent between April 1 and August 18 compared to the same period last year.

Other types of crime to show a significant rise between the two dates include vehicle crime up by 29.2 per cent (102 more crimes), anti-social behaviour up by 4.6 per cent (250 more incidents) and violence up by 2.5 per cent (44 more crimes).

More than 500 officers have been lost across Lancashire due to the cuts in the past four years, with even more job losses expected to be announced in the coming weeks due to the next Government Comprehensive Spending Review.

In 2010, the force saw a reduction in spending of around £43m and last year the spending gap increased to £63m.

The Gazette understands at least £13m of further savings are needed to be made by the force to comply with Government targets.