West Craven will lose three of its Community Beat Managers as a result of a police staffing review, but chiefs insist it is not a loss in service but a new way of operating in the area.
The announcement comes in the latest of a number of exercises by Lancashire Constabulary to find £44 million of savings in the next four years.
Two CBMs will remain in West Craven; PC Matt Lunney overseeing the two Barnoldswick wards and PC Carl Nevison responsible for both the Earby ward, which also covers Kelbrook, Salterforth and Sough, and the Boulsworth ward which includes Trawden and Laneshaw Bridge.
There will also be three PCSO posts covering West Craven, one of which is yet to be filled.
Insp. Phil Davies said: “West Craven has always operated on a different policing model to the rest of the county so this is just bringing it line with everyone else.”
The announcement was made to councillors with a mixed response.
Coun. Vera Cocker, representing Earby Town Council, said she felt positive about the plans.
“Initially you think ‘Well, they’re just taking all the officers’ away but I can understand what they are trying to do. Everybody has to try and make savings and they are hoping to deliver a better policing system.
“We feel like they have listened to us in Earby, because we were getting really upset and worried about a lack of police presence but a lot of that was resolved at an earlier meeting. PCs Matt Lunney and Carl Nevison are very popular in the town so we are delighted to be keeping them with us.
“We will have to wait and see how it pans out with sharing a CBM with the Boulsworth ward. It is a big area and I think they have similar problems to what we have in Earby because there isn’t much for young people to do.
“I just hope the two that are left don’t get taken away to other areas because if you take away the one you have for an area, that leaves you with nothing.”
But some Barnoldswick councillors were less convinced by the outcome of the review. Pendle councillor Marjorie Adams, who represents Coates ward, said: “The team in Barnoldswick has been slashed from four constables to just one and with the other constable covering the Earby and Boulsworth wards including Trawden and Laneshaw Bridge, that is just half a position for the rest of West Craven.
“This is a severe blow to the neighbourhood policing team at a time when the crime rate in our town has gone up dramatically with crimes almost doubling in November and up by a third and a quarter in successive months. It is the wrong time to cut police numbers.”
Coun. Adams said she would be calling for a reversal of the cuts or at least extra police resources in West Craven.
Coun. David Whipp, who represents Craven ward, said: “In Pendle as a whole there is no reduction in numbers but resources have been taken out of West Craven and put elsewhere. The greatest loss is the officers in the existing team who are Barlickers and care about the area they live in.
“Two excellent police officers are remaining in West Craven. It is just a shame that there aren’t more of them.
“We will be keeping a very close eye on how things go with response times and crime rates.”
Insp. Davies explained how the new policing model would operate in West Craven.
“Up to now there have been five CBMs, which is actually more than Nelson has, and three PCSOs who have covered a whole range of policing duties including response work.
“The two dedicated CBMs going forward will still deal with some emergency matters but fundamentally their duties will be dealing with local issues.
“The area will be covered 24/7 by the response teams operating out of Nelson, and there is the ‘planned response’ team who follow up on more routine incidents with appointments.
“We currently have two PCSOs in post and a vacancy. We are looking to interview in the next couple of weeks and will hopefully have someone in place by the Spring. The PCSOs will look at problem solving, crack down on anti-social behaviour and see what issues there are need tackling in West Craven.
“This looks like we are cutting staff but we are really just moving people around. As a force we are looking at providing services more efficiently and have changed the way we do business. I am more satisfied with the way things are.
“Projects like reinstating the Farm Watch in Pendle will form part of a wider scheme to tackle rural crimes.”
Insp. Davies said the county-wide staffing review had helped contribute £1.9 million of savings to the £44 million required.
Chief Supt Clive Tattum, who is responsible for the Pennine Division, said: “While the review will mean a reduction of three CBMs operating in the West Craven area, the Constabulary has recognised the need for an accessible and visible policing team in the community and the two remaining CBMs will continue to work from the Barnoldswick base.
“These officers will now have sole responsibility for the communities of West Craven and will be dedicated to dealing with local issues, reducing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour.
“Despite the reduction, we are confident that the level of policing in the West Craven area will continue to meet the needs and expectations of local people.
“Lancashire Constabulary remains committed to neighbourhood policing as the foundation of its policing style and is clear that the new model will continue to serve the public of West Craven well, while being affordable.
“The changes have been communicated to key stakeholders and local people. Residents can find out who is in their neighbourhood policing team by visiting www.lancashire.police.uk”