The Dorset police and crime commissioner has reiterated his commitment to protecting Boscombe from police budget cuts.
Speaking at the second meeting of Boscombe Forum, a community consultation initiative, Martyn Underhill said he would not be decreasing policing efforts in the area.
“I have always said, and said before I was elected that I will ring-fence Boscombe. It is the busiest area for Dorset Police and even with the cuts we’re facing, and the future cuts we’re facing, I will honour that commitment to ring-fence Boscombe,” said Mr Underhill.
“I have also said, and will honour that there will be a neighbourhood policing footprint in Boscombe whatever happens, because Boscombe is so important to the community and the police,” he added.[one_half]
Recent government enforced police budget cuts had led the Dorset PCC to increase policing precepts by 1.95% for the 2013/14 term which, amongst other things, allowed Dorset Police to recruit an extra 12 police officers.
While admitting that he was still “fact finding” about Boscombe, Mr Underhill, who took his post last November, was under no illusion to the major crime issues affecting Boscombe.
“The biggest issue in Boscombe is the transient population caused by the HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) in this area and I welcome and embrace Bournemouth Borough Council’s purchase of two HMOs in the area. But that is a drop in the ocean, there are hundreds of HMOs in Boscombe and we need to deal with that,” he said.
“How I deal with that is come at it from another angle. I’m working with the probation and the prison services to stop these people coming here in the first place. We need to intervene in prison, my mentoring system is meant to mentor the prisonsoners inside the prison, six weeks before they come out.”
During his speech to an attentive crowd at Kings Park Junior School in Boscombe, Mr Underhill described Boscombe as a “conundrum” due to the striking differences in the coastal town.
“It’s a complete contrast isn’t it, beautiful environment, historic location. But on the other side, the only place in Dorset where we have on-street sex workers, the busiest area for Dorset police in the county, and the most deprived ward in the south-west.”
The meeting also gave Inspector Chris Weeks from Dorset police the opportunity to share improving statistics on crime in Boscombe. While overall crime was only down by 5% across the area, this translated to 226 fewer instances of violent crime on the previous year, 553 less 999 calls attended and a 10% reduction in anti-social orders.