Pendle peer challenges Government over police cuts

Chief Constable Steve Finnigan. Photo: David Hurst
Chief Constable Steve Finnigan. Photo: David Hurst

Pendle’s Liberal Democrat peer Lord Greaves challenged the Government in the Lords over the future of neighbourhood policing in the county which he said would be “swept away” if the threatened level of funding cuts took place.

Lord Greaves asked: “Have the Government heard that the Chief Constable of Lancashire, Steve Finnigan, has said that if the present expected spending cuts come about, together with the proposed changes in the police funding formula announced last week, by 2020 the county would have to get rid of most of its specialist police units, and the whole of its neighbourhood policing would have to be swept away?

Is this really the legacy that the present Government want to see at the end of this Parliament?

Lord Greaves

“Is this really the legacy that the present Government want to see at the end of this Parliament?”

The deputy leader of Pendle Council pointed out that only that day Lancashire had been judged “outstanding” in a review of police force efficiency carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. He also said that Lancashire was a pioneer in the development of neighbourhood policing and now has a comprehensive and highly successful neighbourhood policing system across the county.

The Conservative Minister responding to the question, Lord Bates, agreed and said: “It has been judged ‘Outstanding’, it has produced an incredible performance, it has reduced crime by another 3% this year, and it has managed to increase its reserves by a further 30%.”

In response to the proposed change in the funding formula in which Lancashire is the biggest loser in the country, he said it was still open to consultation and discussions. But he said: “In the event that that decision stands, there would be transitional arrangements to dampen the effect of any changes in Lancashire.”

Following the exchanges, Lord Greaves said it was very disappointing that the only firm promise the Minister made that any drastic cuts in funding would be “dampened” by transitional arrangements. He said the whole system of local policing in Lancashire was now under threat.

Labour peer Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, a former leading Lancashire county councillor and member of the old Lancashire police committee, said: “The Government cannot just say that they are going to dampen the effects; surely they need to change the policy.”