‘Blame it on the cuts’ as violent crime shoots up

Police have been called into Hodgson High in Poulton
Police have been called into Hodgson High in Poulton
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Soaring crime rates on the Fylde coast are showing no signs of slowing down, new figures reveal.

Thousands more violent offences and a steep rise in robberies are behind a worrying rise in crime across Lancashire, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

Generic police van

Generic police van

The latest figures, covering the 12 months up to June, serve to reinforce warnings made last month when The Gazette revealed the surge in crime on the Fylde coast.

Heavy budget cuts imposed by the government, which have seen Lancashire Police lose around 700 officers in the last five years, have been blamed for bringing to an end years of falling crime.

The numbers show crime across the county – not including fraud, which is now recorded differently – is up four per cent on the previous 12 months. On the Fylde coast, that figure rises to more than five per cent.

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “It is disappointing to see a rise in overall levels of crime in Lancashire, and to note that some serious offences are on the rise too, although the fact that theft from the person and drugs offences are falling is good.

“When crime figures were consistently falling in the aftermath of the Government’s budget cuts, I did warn that the implications of the significant budget reductions imposed on Lancashire would be felt at a later date.

“However, this is not an excuse – and my commitment to protecting our communities remains as strong as ever.”

County-wide, violent crimes account for more than one in five of all offences reported.

More than half of the 20,540 offences classed as violence against the person resulted in injury – up 11 per cent.

More than 48,000 thefts were reported in a 12-month span, including almost 5,000 domestic burglaries – a 10 per cent rise.

The most recent figures for the Fylde coast show that in the 12 months to March robbery was up 13 per cent, domestic burglary soared by 23 per cent and shoplifting rose by 10 per cent – well above the Lancashire average of four per cent.

Fylde and Wyre both saw above average increases, with crime in the boroughs up six and 10 per cent respectively.

Mr Grunshaw added:“I must stress that despite these statistics, Lancashire is a safe place to live, and I want to ensure it stays that way.

“I will be speaking to the Chief Constable about these latest statistics and, as we move forward with continuing to make the cuts required of us, will be looking at how we can address these key areas.”

The force has so far found £60m of the required savings but will have to identify a further £20m by 2018.

Julie Bascombe, vice chairman of the Revoe Area Forum, said: “This area is safer than it was when we first arrived but it is not satisfying if crime is going up because it could come on to your doorstep – it does need tackling.

“At the end of the day, we need more police on the streets.”

However, she said residents can play a bigger role in keeping communities safe.

“There is always something you can do,” she added.

“We need to try and put something back into the community.”

Police forces across the country commented on the figures released yesterday.

But a Lancashire Police spokesman insisted the force was unable to comment until it was able to verify yesterday’s figures.