Concerned residents have joined the fight against fresh police budget cuts that bosses warn will have “devastating” effects in Lancashire.
Members of the Talbot Police and Communities Together (PACT) group unanimously agreed to write to Blackpool’s MPs and add their voices to the growing backlash against the Government’s austerity measures.
It comes as Lancashire Police hit out at plans to slash a further £25m from the budget – with a further squeeze on budget of up to 40 per cent expected next month.
A letter to the Police and Crime Commissioner, sent by the Home Office, revealed plans that could see Lancashire hit harder than any other force.
Dave Blacker, chairman of Talbot PACT, said members of the public need to speak out before it is too late, adding: “It is almost at the point where you are seeing how far you can go before something breaks.
“We don’t want to sleepwalk into a terrible situation.”
The Gazette reported last week that Lancashire Police faces losing 400 more officers – on top the 700 who have gone in the last five years – due to mounting financial pressures. Cuts are expected to impact on everything from neighbourhood policing to road policing.
At a briefing yesterday, police commissioner Clive Grunshaw said he will meet MPs today to discuss how dangerous the cuts will be.
He said: “It puts people’s jobs at risk but more importantly it puts people’s lives at risk. I’m not convinced that they understand the decisions that they are taking and I don’t think they really know how severe this impact is going to be.”
Coun Mark Smith, who represents the Talbot ward, will write to MPs Gordon Marsden and Paul Maynard on behalf of the PACT group.
He said: “We don’t want to go down to just a 999 service –we need police on the beat.
“Especially in the inner wards, where we have most of the problems, it is important we keep the police at the level we have got.”
He said the “harsh” cuts have hit Northern towns like Blackpool harder than others, where the problems of crime and deprivation are less severe. Mr Blacker added: “We are concerned about the future of neighbourhood policing given the severity of the cuts, which could potentially be very damaging.”
“As a group, we value neighbourhood policing very much. Officers say it is vital for gathering evident and solving crimes.
“In my view, it is really important that we keep our eye on the situation.”