Entrepreneur, Loraine Birchall is standing for the position of Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) after the current Incumbent decided to stand down.
There are considerable changes in how Policing works, across the country and Government cuts are impacting on Police effectiveness and its impact on local communities.
In recent studies, absence of any police presence has been shown to increase crime (Sherman and Eck, 2002).
In the latest report for Cumbria Constabulary, Michael Cunningham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabularies (HMIC) said, ““The force is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. Neighbourhood teams work well with partner organisations to resolve local problems. The force should improve its investigation of crime, and its management of offenders is inconsistent.”
Cunningham continued, “The force has a good understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime but more work is needed to improve the knowledge and awareness amongst front line officers and staff to gather intelligence and disrupt organised crime groups as part of an orchestrated, longer-term plan to dismantle them.”
Birchall says, “Public order offences in Cumbria have risen by over 40% between 2012 and 2015 under the watch of the current Police and Crime Commissioner. If community or neighbourhood policing is impacted by the next round of budget cuts, this could damage community relationships and result in increased public order offences. Most public order is alcohol related; a joint strategy for the Police, Councils and Partner Agencies is essential. The next PCC must ensure this takes place.”
Birchall continued: “The Government seems to think there is a “One sizes fits all” solution to Policing and how it is funded. Cumbria has the 4th largest force area in the UK and the second smallest population, which increases by 16 million during the tourist season. Funding in future is to be based on the static population with no allowance for tourism or the vast area Cumbria Constabulary has to cover. The reality is that the County has more miles of road than any other. How this will be done when it could lose a further £19 million from the budget by 2020 brings many challenges.”
The impact of existing Government cuts to Police Budgets has caused significant issues and a situation has now reached a stage now where police officers cannot arrest offenders in rural areas due to the lack of vehicles to get them securely from the point of arrest to the nearest police office.
Officers on foot are having to rely on the One vehicle available in some areas to be able to get them and the offenders to the custody office.
Despite the lessons learned following the Derrick Bird shootings in Cumbria, in the recent HMIC report Michael Cunningham stated, “The firearms licensing arrangements in Cumbria are not sufficiently robust in some important respects, which means that public safety may be compromised and is a matter of concern.”
However, Cyber-crime and the real threat of terrorism to a rural county about to host the largest Nuclear site in Europe highlights the ever-changing world facing Cumbria Police.
In the recent South East Cyber Crime Survey of over 11,000 respondents, results show
– An overwhelming 83% of people believe that online crimes are of equal seriousness to physical crimes.84% of people who responded had experienced some form of attempted cybercrime in the last 12 months.
– 84% of people who responded had experienced some form of attempted cybercrime in the last 12 months.89% were worried about someone using their personal information online without their permission.
– 89% were worried about someone using their personal information online without their permission.Nearly 30% of victims reported some form of financial impact.
– Nearly 30% of victims reported some form of financial impact.Only 31% of people report cybercrime to the authorities, such as the Police, Action Fraud & Trading Standards.
-Only 31% of people report cyber crime to the authorities, such as the Police, Action Fraud & Trading Standards.
Birchall said, “Given the serious nature of cyber crime and online fraud, it should be a priority of the current Police & Crime Commissioner.”