Candidates call for more police officers in North Yorkshire as crime rises
The contenders in the election battle to be the next Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner of North Yorkshire have committed themselves to boosting police numbers after new figures showed rising crime in the county.
The comments of the Tory, Lib Dem and Independent candidates follow concern expressed by the outgoing commissioner's reaction to statistics from the Office for National Statistics on Crime in England and Wales.
They showed that, for the year ending September 2019, there was a general rise in crime in North Yorkshire.
The county's current PFCC Julia Mulligan said, although North Yorkshire remained the safest place in England, she was worried, in particular, about the rise in violent crime in the county.
Conservative candidate Philip Allott, who was educated at King James’ School in Knaresborough, said he supported a growth in the number of police officers.
Mr Allott said: "Crime rates across England have been rising and North Yorkshire has not been immune from this process, for example our neighbouring forces West Yorkshire and Sunderland have seen some increases, with West Yorkshire now being listed as having the highest violent crime rate in England.
"Whilst North Yorkshire continues to have the lowest crime rate of any police force in England, this is of little consolation if you have been the victim of crime, which is why I am determined even more must be done to improve local policing."
Mr Allott said, if elected, he would be committed to "significantly increasing the size of the North Yorkshire Police force."
He said the Conservative Government with his support had already agreed the first tranche of recruiting 51 new officers plus a further 58 officers and 28 PCSOs funded as part of last year’s precept rating increase.
The overall aim during the next few years was to recruit around 250 new officers for the force.
Mr Allott pointed out that last week the Government took a further supporting step by announcing a significant £10.6 million spending increase for North Yorkshire Police, which will all be invested into local policing.
Lib Dem candidate Mark Christie said: "Policing North Yorkshire is an incredible challenge, given the 3200 square miles the force has to cover, the biggest territory in the country, with only just over 1500 police officers to do the job (and roughly 1500 backroom staff).
"Chief constable Lisa Winward and her dedicated staff continue to do a fantastic job given the area the force has to cover.
"For me, violent crime is a major concern, especially the rise in knife crime, which is not a phenomenon restricted to major inner city environments. The scourge of county lines drug trafficking, and the general use of illegal drugs, is also a major worry, as this drives other forms of crime.
"As a force, we can find joined-up solutions within the county to tackle many of these issues, but also we need to work with other forces to face down the threat of terrorism, county lines, people trafficking and cyber crime, and other 'beyond borders' issues.
Mr Christie said: "If elected into the role of North Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner I'd like to see oversight of the Fire & Rescue Service returned to how it was previously to 2017 so the P&CC can concentrate on crime issues such as more visible policing on the streets and effectively supporting the victims of crime with the quality and timely support they deserve to help repair the harm done and rebuild lives."
Pateley Bridge-based independent candidate Keith Tordoff MBE, who was a Leeds-based police officer in the 1970s and 80s, said: "North Yorkshire the report shows is the safest place in England and this is no doubt thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Chief Constable and hard-working police ' family ' .
"Unfortunately, the released statistics also show that crime is on the increase in North Yorkshire and detection rates are woeful.
"People I speak to in the community quite often do not report crimes as they believe it will not be investigated.
"I have tried as many others have to report incidents by phoning 101. If as is frequently the case the phone is not answered relatively quickly this results in the caller hanging up and the report not being made. I am not blaming the understaffed control room personnel who are doing sterling work.
"An alarming part of the statistics was that in the three months up to September 2019 when the report was up to, no one in North Yorkshire was prosecuted for the offence of theft.
"I find this remarkable as clearly numerous cases of theft will have occurred throughout North Yorkshire in that period. I wonder how many cases of theft since that date have been prosecuted in North Yorkshire?"