“Bricks and mortar don’t solve crime,” according to Beds Police and Crime Commissioner in response to the harsh criticism of his cost-cutting plans to move officers into supermarkets.
PCC Olly Martins’ remarks have reignited the ongoing feud between himself and Mayor of Leighton-Linslade, Councillor Amanda Dodwell, who has launched a petition against the closure of Leighton Buzzard police station – a campaign that has gathered over 2,000 supporters in just over a week.
Mr Martins, who insists no concrete decisions will be made until his survey’s consultation period is over, said: “Of course I am aware that local councillors in Leighton Buzzard have been talking up the increase in crime when comparing the first quarter of this year to last.
“I and my Assistant Commissioner have taken great pains to explain that for Leighton Buzzard – where crime levels are low – very small changes in the numbers of offences can be over exaggerated when expressed as percentages.
“It is therefore important to look at the long-term crime levels, rather than a short-term snapshot that tells us very little. There has been a year-on-year decrease in crime in Leighton Buzzard over the last five years, and total crime has reduced by over 30%. I would urge those highlighting crime as a problem to join me in doing something proactive about it, like building up Neighbourhood Watch, instead of indulging in a political point-scoring exercise.
“I also think it’s important to point out that bricks and mortar don’t solve crime. That is down to our officers and staff with the support of local residents, community groups and local authorities.”
Councillor Dodwell said: “I have asked Mr Martins to give us details of how many officers are in the town at any one time, but so far he has failed to provide this information. I suspect this is because the answer is not many! I have it on very good authority that at times there is just a single PCSO in the town, which quite frankly is not good enough for a town with a population of 40,000.”
Deputy mayor, Councillor Ray Berry, said: “I am concerned that having been told by the Chief Constable that Beds Police would maintain a ‘presence’ in the town, this has now been downgraded to a ‘footprint’ by Mr Martins. I am not sure what this means in reality, but we need more than a desk next to the fruit and veg aisle in Tesco.”
You can sign the petition at the LLTC offices at The Whitehouse or access it online www.leightonlinslade-tc.gov.uk.
Access the policing survey at www.bedfordshire.pcc.pol ice.uk/police-stations-survey.