Home Secretary told town is an ‘easy target’ for crime

Amanda Dodwell and Ray Berry

Amanda Dodwell and Ray Berry

Leighton is taking its fight for a fully functioning police station right to the top with an appeal to Home Secretary Theresa May.

Almost all the members of Leighton-Linslade Town Council have thrown their weight behind a hard hitting letter asking for urgent action to review the government’s funding of its police force.

Under-fire Beds Police crime commissioner, Olly Martins, is having to make swingeing cuts of more than £19m to services before 2015.

The cash shortfall has seen a radical reorganisation of the force with Leighton’s Hockliffe Road station being policed by a small group of community bobbies.

Fully warranted police officers now begin and end shifts in Luton.

But more than 5,500 people signed a petition calling for the town to be policed with its own officers (not just PCSOs), andfor the station to have a manned desk.

A report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate warned that there were real concerns about the force’s ability to maintain its service to the public when faced with further reductions.

In their letter to Ms May the town council accuse Mr Martins of taking “a very Luton-centric approach to policing” with crime in Leighton bucking the county trend by increasing.

They say: “We feel that the ‘thin blue line’ is beingstretched to breaking point.

“ The PCSOs have no power of arrest, and rely on officers from Luton (approx. 13 miles) or Bedford (approx. 23 miles) for backup.

“The current arrangement makes the town and surrounding areas an easy target for criminal gangs.”

Councillor Ray Berry, chairman of the police liaison committee, said: “While the PCC is ultimately responsible for the allocation of police resources in Bedfordshire, we do share his concerns that the formula used to calculate funding for police forces is unfairly biased against Bedfordshire.”

Mayor, Councillor Amanda Dodwell, added: “We are hopeful that the recent increase in officer numbers in the town will result in a permanent decline in crime across Leighton-Linslade.

“We need to work together to ensure that Beds Police has the resources it needs to 
maintain neighbourhood policing and keep crime rates down.

“The Home Secretary needs to look at the almost unique situation we have in Bedfordshire when considering the allocation of funding nationally.”




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