CITY MP Chris Matheson has called for a greater police presence in Chester city centre following a rise in crime figures.
He says people want to see “more police on our streets” and has pledged to work closely with Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner David Keane in order to help deliver it.
There are plans to bring a small police station back to Chester city centre, offering a greater range of services than the small unit currently based at the Town Hall.
But the improvements must be achieved against a backdrop of Government cuts which have seen the number of police officers in England and Wales fall over recent years.
The city’s Labour MP said: “Time and again, residents tell me they want to see more police on our streets – and I know that this is something that David Keane wants too.
“Government cuts have decimated local police forces and austerity is putting increasing pressure on all corners of society.
“But despite these challenges, I’ve been in ongoing discussions with David about a project that could see a small police station back in Chester city centre once again.”
The latest crime statistics for Chester city show an upward trend between August 2016 and August 2017, the most recent month where figures are available.
Last August, a total of 448 crimes were while in August this year there were 582 – the highest figure posted in records dating back to December 2010.
The majority of crimes in August this year involved anti-social behaviour (216), while 105 were violent incidents.
Cheshire PCC Mr Keane said: “When you spot a problem, you have to deal with it.
“At the moment, we are balancing increasing crime with less money to tackle it. However, I am working with Chris on this initiative which could mean everyone gets want they want.”
Currently, officers have to clock on and off for their shifts at the main Blacon police station. But Mr Keane believes thousands of hours of travel time could be saved if PCSOs could clock on at locations like Chester city centre, or in the communities where they work.
“That means more time on the beat,” he said. “It’s just common sense.”
Mr Matheson wants a greater range of services available in the city centre itself, including the ability for members of the public to walk in and report problems or speak with officers directly.
He said: “In the face of all these cuts, this proves that we can all still work together to improve local services for residents.
“I will continue to work with David as these exciting plans continue to progress.”
Councillor Samantha Dixon, who represents Chester City ward, said she would “strongly welcome” the moves as part of a drive to enhance policing in all communities.
Cllr Dixon added: “With increasing footfall and an even better range of activity and attractions in Chester over recent years, we must do everything we can to ensure residents and visitors are safe.”
See full story in the Chester Leader