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Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner acknowledges concerns during meeting with Southport Labour

police_back_(2).jpgThe Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside says she takes residents’ fears over crime in Southport “very seriously” after a meeting with local Labour representatives.

Councillor Emily Spurrell visited the town after a request to discuss recent events, such as the shooting on Eastbank Street, several acts of vandalism and a spate of shoplifting in the area.

Talking to Liz Savage, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Southport with Norwood Councillor’s Bill and Marianne Welsh and local election candidates Mhairi Doyle (Norwood) and Janis Blackburne (Kew), Cllr Spurrell gave an overview of the current situation in the town and the wider problems facing Merseyside Police.

The Deputy Police Commissioner highlighted that Merseyside Police has been forced to make savings of more than £103m since 2010, with the loss of over 1,500 police officers and staff. This has forced the Commissioner and Chief Constable to review every area of business and has led to Merseyside Police undergoing a major restructure which moves away from a local command unit approach. 

Cllr Spurrell said: “Sadly, we are now seeing the results of years of cutbacks to the police budget. Our police service is under significant strain. Merseyside Police has lost more than 1,000 police officers in the last seven years, with further cuts a possibility, yet calls for help continue to increase and the crimes our teams face are increasingly complex.

“I know the Commissioner and the Chief Constable are still absolutely committed to community policing and our local policing teams are responsible for maintaining that local touch. High profile incidents, such as the recent shooting on Eastbank St. are thankfully still incredibly rare in Southport and when crimes like this do occur I know everything possible is done by the police to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Liz___Emily_Spurrell.jpgConcerns from residents that there also appears to be a wave of lower-level crimes and anti-social behaviour sweeping the town recently were also raised by the Labour group.

Liz Savage explained:

“Residents are worried by recent events and want reassurance. Merseyside Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office are in an unenviable position given the scale of the cuts forced on policing by both the Lib-Dems and Conservatives while in government. We’ve lost 20,000 officers nationally and sadly it seems we are reaping the rewards of it now.”

{Photo- Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Cllr Emily Spurrell (2nd from right) with Cllr Liz Savage (centre front) Cllrs Bill and Marianne Welsh (centre rear and 1st left) and Labour's Norwood candidate, Mhairi Doyle (last on right) and Kew candidate Janis Blackburne(3rd from left) with local supermarket staff.}        

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office is aware of the issue, said Cllr Spurrell:

“We understand that there are local concerns and it’s something we take very seriously. There’s a lot of good work going on, such as the recent guns and knives amnesty. Locally, officers are trying to target anti-social behaviour such as the rise in scrambler bikes on the beaches and the recent ‘community concern’ survey by Merseyside Police shows how the force is listening to the concerns of residents and acting on them. ”

The group also took Cllr Spurrell to a local supermarket on Bispham Rd which has been
forced to employ a security guard after losing around £500 a week through shoplifting, an amount described as “significant to a small store” by staff. Shoplifting has become a major problem for many retail outlets across the country and last month there was outrage as some police forces admitted they did not have the resources to pursue lower-level crimes.

Merseyside Police Federation chairman, Peter Singleton, who was also contacted by Southport Labour, explained that:

“We can still concentrate resources on incidents such as the recent shooting in the town but across the force area, the difficulty now lies with not having the resources to properly deal with the lower level incidents. By not addressing those minor incidents, we are missing the opportunity of intervening at an early stage of potential criminality, as it’s these relatively low level anti-social behaviours and minor crimes that are the avenue that can take some youths into more serious criminal behaviour. We were getting very good at stopping that flow of criminality and that type of policing pays for itself tenfold. Sadly, we are not even seeing the full effects of the cuts yet.”

For Liz Savage it’s time more resources were put back into local policing:

“Those who voted for these cuts or support them such as Southport’s previous MP, John Pugh, and his successor Damien Moore, have put a tremendous strain on our police force and its officers and it is starting to show. We need to back our police officers and emergency services, not cut them or keep their pay capped. We also need the 10,000 extra officers that Labour has promised in its manifesto back on our streets, that would be a great start.”

eastbank_st.jpg                                               Image - Colin Lane/Visiter

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