Police cuts spark response time fear

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A major shake-up of how Lancashire Police is run has led to concerns over response times during busy periods in Blackpool town centre.

The force claims an internal restructure, part of its efforts to make savings of £20m, will not hit front-line policing – and could even speed up the time it takes officers to arrive at crime scenes.

From next month, the constabulary’s western division, which covers Blackpool and Fylde, will merge with its northern division, which includes Fleetwood and Lancaster.

Lancashire Police stressed the changes, which have involved job losses, only affect its management staff and will not impact on front-line services. It will also mean previously centralised services, including road policing and armed response units, moving back to the area.

But the removal of some division boundaries, as the forces cuts the number of operational areas from six to three, has raised questions over whether officers will be forced to travel further, leaving some areas temporarily exposed.

Charlie Docherty, chairman of Central Holiday Area PACT, said: “We need to know if this will affect the EMRO area and if there will be less police footfall.

“Is it going to be more difficult to get a response when it is needed?”

Lancashire Police said the changes will cut management costs without affecting the level of service the public gets.

A spokesman said: “Regardless of where officers are based, every area of Lancashire will continue to have a 24/7 immediate policing response. Because we are removing our internal divisional boundaries we will also be able to respond to incidents quicker by deploying the nearest available patrol regardless of what their ‘area’ is.”

“We have already put our officers on new shift systems that better support demand for communities and put more officers on duty at key times of the day.”

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