We refer to the front page Halifax Courier article about the lack of police in Sowerby Bridge, printed on 14th March 2012.
We attended the ward forum in question where Sgt Richmond explained that he was unable to provide “the type of policing I want and you deserve in Sowerby Bridge”. It was very sad to hear that crime is on the increase in our ward.
One could only sympathise with Sgt Richmond as he was faced by angry business owners and residents – how do you offer the service people expect when the government are cutting police numbers by 3,500 in our region? We have been campaigning against these police cuts for some time now and we appreciate that it is something the police themselves also strongly oppose. Having three local officers on maternity leave only exacerbates the problem - is there no way that they can provide cover for the members of staff in question?
Sgt Richmond noted that there has been an upsurge in burglaries in particular. He reported that the police believed they had caught the person responsible. But just two days ago we came across an uninsured family in the Sowerby New Road area who had returned to their house moments earlier to find it had been burgled. One Wharf Street pub alone has suffered four recent break-ins.
Furthermore, Sowerby Bridge has become more and more popular on weekend evenings. It is great that people want to come here, but we must ensure that people are safe whilst they are out. The sad death of Richard Reynolds last year after an attack in town highlights the need for a police presence.
We have had recent discussions with the Street Angels about them coming to Sowerby Bridge more often at the weekends, and we are hoping that we can direct some of the funds from the Sowerby Bridge Community First budget to assist them with their work.
But whilst they provide an extremely valuable service, they are no substitute for police officers. Can theyoffer the people of Sowerby Bridge any assurances that you will reassess the problem of police presence in our ward?
Finally we would like to seek clarification on a further point that was not reported in the Courier but was made by Sgt Richmond at the ward forum. He said that it was likely that civilians and volunteers would take up more and more police work, and also likely that Halifax Police Station would close its front desk to the public at night.
We are sure that all the law-abiding people of Calderdale will be extremely alarmed by these proposals. Are you able to shed any more light on this?
Adam Wilkinson and Councillor Dave Draycott Labour Party, Sowerby Bridge