Rising crime figures spark funding concern

A total of 20,359 crimes were recorded for the 12 months up to the end of June in the Wigan borough
A total of 20,359 crimes were recorded for the 12 months up to the end of June in the Wigan borough

CRIME rates across Wigan have soared in the last year prompting a stark warning about the impact of police budget cuts.

Police commissioner Tony Lloyd said the force is threatened with returning to “1970s numbers where police were used simply as an emergency response service.”

In Wigan borough, a total of 20,359 crimes were recorded for the 12 months up to the end of June, representing a 22.9 per cent increase from the same point last year.

Sexual offences saw an alarming increase of 78 per cent with 551 incidents, robbery also saw a rise of 23 per cent to 196.

Violent crimes, public order, criminal damage offences saw rises of 42, 63 and 17 per cent, respectively.

Earlier this year the Evening Post reported overall crime in the borough had rocketed up by 15.8 per cent for the period up until March.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “It’s welcome more people are coming forward to report crimes like sexual offences and that the police are taking this seriously. But the Home Secretary must listen to experienced police officers who say that the level of cuts imposed on forces is unsustainable.

“Imposing deep cuts to fund other government priorities like tax cuts for the very wealthiest prevents the police from keeping our communities safe and is both short-sighted and wrong.”

The shocking figures were reflected across Greater Manchester as the region saw a 14 per cent rise overall with similar increases in violent crime and sexual offences.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has also picked out home secretary Theresa May for criticism in recent years over cuts to force budgets and the resulting impact to community safety.

He said: “The Home Secretary continues to claim that falling crime is a justification for cutting away at local policing.

“Today, her claims are once again exposed as baseless and simply untrue. As we brace ourselves for further cuts in chancellor George Osborne’s spending review next month, now is the time for Theresa May to finally listen to calls from me and the chief constable to stop the policing cuts and invest in keeping our communities safe.

“Local people are rightly concerned about the cuts to GMP and, while police officers and staff remain committed to keeping people safe, it is getting increasingly more difficult to put the public’s mind at ease.

“The reality is that we are heading towards 1970s police numbers where police were used simply as an emergency response service.

“But modern policing has evolved with police now dealing with complex issues such as domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation, working with councils and other agencies, the voluntary sector and communities to protect the most vulnerable.”

For the first time the statistics included fraud and cybercrime with more than five million incidents recorded nationally.

Deputy Chief Constable of GMP, Ian Hopkins said: “The figures reflect the increased confidence and bravery of victims in reporting knowing that GMP will treat them with compassion and understanding. Tackling domestic abuse, sexual offences and hate crime is a top priority.”