FAMILIES living in rural parts of Somerset should use a new survey to demand better policing, says MP Ian Liddell-Grainger.
He says the police and crime survey launched by Avon and Somerset’s new Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford provides the ideal opportunity to put forward evidence on the results of de-policing rural areas.
And, he said, he would be making his own submission based on a catalogue of complaints from his Bridgwater and West Somerset constituents.
Mr Liddell-Grainger has repeatedly accused the force of diluting police cover in the countryside to the benefit of staffing levels in towns and cities.
But, he said: “The previous commissioner was one of the country’s leading experts in demonstrating that black is, in fact, white.
“The evidence is all around us. The countryside is dotted with abandoned village police stations and rural crime has attained record levels –with a significant number of victims declaring it to be a waste of time reporting theft and damage to the police because they know nothing will be done about it.
“Yet Avon and Somerset has never acknowledged the situation to be down to a lack of manpower.
“There is a clear direct correlation between rising crime rates and the reduction of policing in rural areas. Precisely the same effect is now being seen in Minehead where a police station which once had a resident force of more than 30 is now all but de-manned.
“The town is being hit by a wave of vandalism because hooligans know there are no police around and their chances of been caught are next to zero.
“I am afraid Mr Shelford has inherited a complete mess as a result of previous policies – and I look to as many as possible of those living in the countryside to underline that fact by responding to the survey.”