PCC candidates for Lancashire 'must reduce crime'

All four candidates hoping to be Lancashire's first police and crime commissioner say reducing offences will be the most important part of the role.

The candidates were taking part in a debate ahead of the election, which takes place next Thursday.

The commissioner will oversee the work of the chief constable and hold the force to account where necessary.

Lancashire Constabulary is the 10th biggest force in England and Wales and was set up in 1839.

It serves approximately 1.5 million people across the county.

'Going too far'

Chief Constable Steve Finnigan admitted in February that budget cuts were hitting policing in the county.

He said new policing arrangements had been put in place to cut costs and the changes made it harder to reduce crime.

Analysis

As the election draws closer, this was a chance for the four candidates to get their message across.

The main priority set out by the home secretary is to cut crime, something the Lancashire force has already done quite well.

Latest figures show that crime fell by 3% during a 12 month period, hard to improve on given there are now 500 fewer officers.

Of course all four want to reduce crime but can they?

Conservative Tim Ashton and Liberal Democrat Afzal Anwar both believe the police can be more efficient, Mr Ashton setting a target to reduce crime by 6% over three years.

Labour's Clive Grunshaw continues to focus on government cuts but he has to be careful he doesn't overdo the message.

And UKIP's Robert Drobny, a former special constable, is aware of the irony if he ends up overseeing the chief constable.

Labour's Clive Grunshaw said any further cuts to the number of police officers would have a "real impact" on the force.

He said: "My aim in standing for this role is to make sure the public of Lancashire has the best police force in the country and to ensure their safety and security and we can only do that by supporting the police because they are struggling, the cuts are going too far.

"We need as many police officers out on the streets as we can; we need visible policing."

Afzal Anwar, from the Liberal Democrats, said: "Crime can still can be reduced by making savings, by making the police more effective, by cutting red tape and by working with other agencies within the criminal justice system.

'More bobbies'

"There are cuts across the board so we can't make cuts an excuse."

The Conservative Party candidate Tim Ashton said he would have "only one target - and that is to reduce crime".

"Making sure police officers get out from behind those desks, cut that red tape and get out on the streets catching criminals where we want to see them," he said.

Robert Drobny, representing the UK Independence Party, said: "We need to work more with the probation service. Rehabilitation is the way forward.

"What's the point of locking these people up, sticking them in a cell, if when they come out they're just committing more crime?

"We all want less crime, more bobbies on the beat."

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