Town safety fears

MPs Yvette Cooper and John Mann with retired Retford police officer Tony MacDonald (centre).
MPs Yvette Cooper and John Mann with retired Retford police officer Tony MacDonald (centre).

COMMUNITY safety concerns were on the agenda when Labour MP Yvette Cooper came to Retford this month.

The shadow home secretary visited a group of young mums on Friday 13th April to hear their views about community safety in the area.

Ms Cooper also met retired Retford beat manager Tony MacDonald who was forced to take early retirement as part of police cuts because he had served more than 30 years in the force.

Speaking after her visit, she told the Retford Trader& Guardian: “Local police forces are doing an excellent job while under increasing pressure due to the Government’s 20 per cent cuts to police budgets.”

”A consequence of this is that Chief Constables across the country are being forced to lose some of their most experienced and long-serving officers, like the former officer who I met who has been forced to retire early as a consequence of the Tory –led Government’s cuts.”

She added: “The Home Secretary must realise that you cannot make 20 per cent frontloaded cuts to the police without losing the very crime fighters we need.”

“The loss of so many experienced officers is the Home Secretary’s responsibility. Chief Constables are being put in an impossible position by the scale and pace of the cuts.”

A spokesperson for Notts Police said the force has to make savings of more than £40m by 2014 and explored ways of making savings over the past two years.

“We have reshaped Notts Police to adapt to the challenging financial landscape by changing the way the force is structured and protecting our frontline services,” she said.

“Where efficiencies can be made, such as closing Worksop Custody Suite, we have made them. We have also harnessed national best practice and implemented force-wide training in a bid to reduce the impact of this closure on policing and so far it has been successful, with the impact being minimal.”

She added: “Job losses are a last resort but with more than 80 per cent of our budget spent on people, we have had no choice but to reduce the number of people who work for Notts Police.That meant, like other forces across the country, we had to introduce compulsory retirement of officers with 30 years’ pensionable service, known as Regulation A19.”

“This was done with thorough consultation with officers, the Police Federation and Superintendents’ Association and we continue to provide as much support as possible to those affected. We have now stopped using A19.” The spokesman added that protecting front line policing services remains the force’s priority, along with reducing crime, keeping the public safe and improving customer satisfaction.

“Crime has fallen consistently across Notts over the last few years and we have just seen another big fall at the end of the 2011/2012 financial year,” she said. We have done this with fewer people and we are convinced we can continue making the city and county a safer place to live, work and visit.”

Ms Cooper later travelled to Worksop for a tour of the custody suite at Worksop Police Station to hear about the effects the closure of the custody suite will have on the police and crime in Worksop.

She also visited Worksop residents to hear their concerns about the street lights being switched off. Notts County Council is planning to turn off lights on key streets from midnight to 5.30am in a bid to save £1m.