Lancashire police set up Preston task force to bring more offenders to justice

Lancashire police have launched a dedicated neighbourhood task force in Preston to work to ensure more offenders are brought to justice.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 8:46 am
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 8:48 am
Chief constable Andy Rhodes

The task force is tackling the issues that matter most to residents and those who visit and work in the city, according to force chiefs.

The group is made up of a proactive team of five officers, who will work alongside the existing neighbourhood teams, with specific responsibility for tackling local priorities including drug dealing, anti-social behaviour and burglary.

They will also focus on disrupting organised crime group activity and targeting outstanding offenders.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

News of the task force came as Lancashire Constabulary was rated “outstanding” for efficiency following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.

But its investigation of crime was said to be in need of improvement.

Chief constable Andy Rhodes said steps were already under way to tackle that aspect through better training and supervision.

He added he was proud of the way the force had used its resources in the face of massive cuts.

And he said the setting up of nine dedicated task forces – including the new one in Preston – would help officers respond to any intelligence or incident quicker.

Each task force is made up of a proactive team of four officers, with the responsibility for tackling local priorities including drug dealing, anti-social behaviour and burglary, alongside disrupting organised crime group activity and targeting outstanding offenders.

In addition, the force is set to get an extra 153 officers – although it will still be around 600 officers down on 2010 as a result of Government funding cuts.

Lancashire Police Federation has previously warned 153 recruits equates to less than one officer per team.

The chief constable today said Lancashire residents wanted to see serious crimes solved – but they also wanted issues closer to home such an anti-social behaviour dealing with as well.

The force was rated “good” for responding to 999 calls and for solving the most serious crimes.

Mr Rhodes said they needed to look at how to best deploy resources that have been cut through years of austerity.

He said: “That’s a huge challenge when you have to cut your clothing accordingly.

“For four years, we didn’t recruit anybody.

"If you are a victim of crime, it’s a very serious event in your life.

“We have to make decisions all the time about which incident is more serious than anything else.

“We can’t do as much as we would like to do.”

The Inspectorate rated the force good at reducing crime, keeping people safe, protecting vulnerable people and treating its staff and communities with

fairness.

HMICFRS inspects all police forces and fire and rescue services in England and Wales, to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of these bodies.

The 2018/19 report, praises the Constabulary’s approach to planning based on evidence and insight, making investment in critical service areas to meet the changing nature of demand and aligning resources to meet the expectations of the public.

This robust approach to planning has enabled the Constabulary to focus on its core services - answering calls from the public, responding to the public’s needs and investigating crime.

Mr Rhodes said: “I am delighted that we have been rated as ‘outstanding’ in how we operate and provide sustainable services.

"We know there is still work to do, but by focusing on getting our core services right over the past couple of years, we are now in a good position to meet the challenge of growing the Constabulary in the future, as a result of new funding into policing.

“The report endorses that we are focusing our resources in the right place, at the right time, and importantly, that we are getting it right - listening to our staff and communities, tackling the issues that are important to them and investing where we need to.

“Whilst the last few years have been incredibly difficult due to the impact of austerity and budget cuts, we have made significant investment to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our county are protected from harm, and, that we deliver on our purpose of keeping people safe.”

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “In spite of 10 years of government cuts, this inspection is testament that Lancashire continues to have one of the best and most efficient police forces in the country which we should all be proud of.

“Since 2010, we have delivered over £86m of savings – this is significant and represents 28 per cent of the total police budget, with Lancashire having one of the leanest support services in the country.

“Thanks to the support of the public last year, for the first time since 2010 we were able to invest into policing here in Lancashire, launching Task Forces across the county, focusing on reducing and preventing crime and dealing with the issues that matter most to people.”