Ribble Valley Conservatives call for ‘Emergency Summit’ with Lancashire Police & Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, Re-Opening of the Police Desk in Clitheroe & Re-Instatement of the Lancashire Police Helicopter Base at Warton

Sue Hind, Ribble Valley Borough Conservative Councillor for the Edisford Ward where the Spar Supermarket on Edisford Road was the subject of a Ram Raid where a Cash Machine in which it is thought tens of thousands of pounds were stolen, states, “The residents of Clitheroe feel panicked. The Ram Raid on Spar using a JCB was a very serious crime that is so out of the ordinary - Residents just aren’t used to such serious criminal activity! They see it as symptomatic of the rising level of crime in the Town Centre. Coming on top of a 30 man brawl which took place recently in the Town Centre in Market Place - it feels like Newcastle on a Friday Night.”

Councillor Hind continues, “Residents have contacted me expressing their profound concerns. They believe the recent banner headlines in the local paper have not helped. Although done for the right reasons they feel that it it gives the impression that Clitheroe is open to Criminals when what we ought to be doing is talking about what is being done to deter criminals. It’s not a free for all but I suspect that a spate of break-ins along Edisford Road And Town Centre Shops took place against the background of the Ram Raid on Spar on Edisford Road.”

Councillor Hind goes on “Quite rightly however residents feel nervous and it isn’t as if decision-makers, the Lancashire Police & Crime Commissioner aren’t aware of the figures. The Conservative Group recently carried out research showing that Recorded Crime in the Ribble Valley over the last Calendar 12 months increased by 31.5% almost twice the Lancashire Average increase of 17.4%. Edisford is one of the hotspots as far as the increase in recorded crime is concerned. In the last 12 months (September to September) there have been 569 Calls made to the Police – an increase of 62 (12.2%) on the previous years. In the same period 123 Crimes have been recorded – an increase of 53 (a massive 73.6% more)than the previous year. The figures are really concerning!”

Councillor Hind continues further, “Violence Against the Person and Vehicle Crime are the most frequent categories of recorded crime recorded in the Ward and have seen the largest increase over the last 12 month period.”

Councillor Hind continues yet further, “It doesn’t take a statistical genius to recognise that there is an issue and what the source of the problem is. The other two Town Centre Wards of St. Mary’s and Primrose don’t fare very much better.”

Councillor Ged Mirfin who carried out the research explains, “In the St. Mary’s Ward In the last 12 months (September to September) there have been 748 Calls made to the Police – an increase of 126 (20.3%) on the previous year. In the same period just 87 Crimes were recorded – a glaring disparity - an increase of 87 (just 7.49% on the previous year). Violence Against the Person and Criminal Damage - unsurprisingly are the most frequent categories of recorded crime recorded in the Ward and have seen the largest increase over the last 12 month period. That sends out a very powerful message that we need more Police on Patrol in the Town Centre - particularly at the Weekends.”

Councillor Mirfin continues, “In the Primrose Ward in last 12 months (September to September) there have been a staggering 1456 Calls made to the Police – an increase of 125 (9.4%) on the previous year. In the same period just 234 Crimes have been recorded – an increase of 47 (an increase of a quarter - 25.1%) on the previous year. The figures reveal alarming concerns about the level of policing in the Town Centre. Once again ”Violence Against the Person is the most frequent categories of recorded crime recorded in the Ward and has seen the largest increase over the last 12 month period.”

Councillor Ken Hind, the Leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council states, “I will be contacting Clive Grunshaw, the Labour Lancashire Police & Crime Commissioner inviting him to an Emergency Summit to explain what is going on and what he proposes to do about this urgently. We wait and see as to whether he will respond. In the meantime I have also contacted the Chief Constable requesting an urgent meeting with the Divisional Commander to establish what actions need to be taken and what resources are urgently required in the short-term and how Police Numbers and the Overall Police Presence in the Ribble Valley can be increased over the longer-term, including, critically the re-opening of the Police Front Desk in Clitheroe.”

David Peat, the Chairman of Ribble Valley Conservative Association And the Chair of the Parish Council Liaison Committee on Ribble Valley Borough Council states, “I wrote to Clive Grunshaw a number of weeks ago inviting him to appear in front of the Parish Council Liaison Committee. Thus far I have heard nothing from him. Clearly he doesn’t relish facing a barrage of criticism from Parish Councillors disenchanted with rising levels of crime and high profile incidents of serious criminal activity that they are reading about in the papers and hearing about on the news on the radio and tv. Because he has not responded I have asked the Chief Executive of Ribble Valley Borough Council to write to him directly expressing our concerns.”

Former Ribble Valley Councillor And Parliamentary Candidate Kevin Horkin states, “One of the issues I would like to see put forward is the idea of Community Street Wardens - former members of the Army, Police, Emergency Services and Other Public Servants who could play a role in a supercharged Neighbourhood Watch System. Their role would be intelligence gathering and signposting information to the Police. The creation of CSWs would represent a show of strength by creating individuals who would be at the beating heart of the community when Police are currently withdrawing from that role. I see this as filling the gap created by the closure of the Police Desks. It is very similar to a number of Street Ambassador Schemes which currently operate in a number of big towns and cities across the U.K. Although voluntary CSWs could be recompensed for their efforts by reductions in their Council task.”

Councillor Sue Hind goes one step further, “What we need to do is to be able to track serious criminal activity as soon as it is reported from the air. The main failing in tracking the criminals who stole the cash machine from the Spar on Edisford Road is Police Response Times in actually getting to an incident. A cash machine is a pretty big object and should have been easy to track particularly from the air. That is why I am calling for the re-opening of the Police Helicopter base which was located on the BAE Systems Site In Warton”

Councillor Hind continues, “The NPAS (National Police Air Service) Site at Warton, which was finally closed for good in April 2017 could reach Clitheroe in just 8 Minutes. Response Times from NPAS Sites now being used to cover the entirety of Lancashire in Barton, Greater Manchester, and Hawarden, Cheshire are a minimum of 30 Minutes, by which time criminals will have got away. The closure of the Warton Site was a huge mistake - the helicopter is now having to come from much, much further afield meaning we are not getting anywhere near the same level of service and the criminals responsible for the Edisford Road Ram Raid are getting away Scott free. We just don’t have Police Helicopter resource available to us in the way we should. Clive Grunshaw needs to explain why Lancashire is one of the few forces in the country without it’s own dedicated helicopter. The Police helicopter is invaluable in car chases, missing persons searches and searching for criminals from the air.”