Liberals to fight ‘devastating’ police cuts

Chief Constable Steve Finnigan
Chief Constable Steve Finnigan

Liberal Democrat campaigners are fighting proposed cuts in government funding for policing in Lancashire which will have a “devastating impact” on the safety and security of residents in the area.

West Craven Coun. David Whipp, who chairs Pendle’s Community Safety Partnership and is a member of Lancashire’s Police and Crime Panel, has hit out at government plans to redistribute police funding away from Lancashire Constabulary.

Lancashire’s Chief Constable Steve Finnigan told a press conference on Monday that the force would be “not viable” by 2020 if the proposed cuts and changes to the funding formula occurred. The force may have to find £87m in savings on top of the £74m that has been already saved or identified.

Councillors in West Craven have long bemoaned being out on a limb and fear any proposed cuts would see it, and the county as a whole, lose any remaining contact it has with officers.

Coun. Whipp said: “The proposed cuts are on top of any general reductions in funding for the police service across the country.

“They would have a devastating impact on the safety and security of residents, with our police being reduced to a ‘blue light’ only service through the axing of local neighbourhood police officers.

“It’s vital that we get the government to change its mind on these proposed cuts.”

Mr Finnigan acknowledged the cuts could mean all neighbourhood teams would possibly have to be withdrawn, all public enquiry desks would be closed to the public, the Dogs and Mounted Branch demolished, roads policing units disbanded, the loss of support units and dramatic cuts to the way serious crimes are policed and investigated.

Liberal campaigners have launched a petition opposing the cuts and have tabled resolutions at meetings of Lancashire County Council next Thursday and Pendle Council tonight.

The countywide resolution includes councils’ noting Mr Finnigan’s comments, its great concern at “the threat to frontline policing in Lancashire due to proposed cuts in government funding” and that “the impact of these cuts on Lancashire residents (a further 650 officer posts) will place them at greater risk of crime and anti-social behaviour and that victims will receive a much poorer service from the police service”.

The resolution concludes calling on both councils to write to the Home Secretary expressing concern and requesting Lancashire Police’s funding formula would avoid such cuts and also requesting that Lancashire MPs work to prevent the proposed cuts being implemented.