Anger as restructure splits Farington community policing in half

Concern: Coun Mike Otter
Concern: Coun Mike Otter

A community has been split in half after an ‘unwanted’ restructure by the police.

Under the changes, half of Farington will come under Leyland and the other half will be served by Preston police.

It comes as the six ‘divisions’ previously split across this part of Lancashire were merged to three areas – Preston, Chorley and Skelmersdale.

The geographical boundaries also changed as a result, meaning that any policing response to the north parts of Farington will now come from Preston and Bamber Bridge police stations.

Coun Mike Otter, who represents Farington at parish, borough and county council level, said: “It’s a total anomaly to me to split Farington in half.

“They say it’s due to a radio signal issue – that it won’t reach from Leyland to the north of Farington, but it would seem more sensible for them to sort that issue out rather than making these changes.

“We don’t want it – Farington is on its own, it’s not part of Leyland or Bamber Bridge. It’s important for the community to know who their PCs and PCSOs are and recognise them in the street, which is what we’ve had up to now.

“They had a reshuffle about three or four years ago, which brought all of Farington under Leyland. The boundaries meant that crime figures for Farington showed up everything that had happened at Morrisons and Homebase in Leyland, and we’re going back to that now. Why the need?

“I don’t know how it will affect response times, it’s hard to judge.

“They say that if a police officer in Leyland picks up the signal on the ‘Preston side’ of Farington, they could come from Leyland anyway. Either side can respond.

“I don’t know if they’re just saying that to pacify us.

“I don’t know how it will work really. There is a bit of confusion about it all.”

Geographic inspector for South Ribble, Alison Barff-Lewis, said: “When we became ‘south division’, we gained two larger immediate response teams working out of Chorley and Preston.

“As a result, the radio and geographical boundaries changed slightly which has meant any policing response to the far north parts of Farington will come from Preston and Bamber Bridge.

“Farington is now split between the Bamber Bridge and Leyland neighbourhood policing teams. The community beat manager (CBM) and PCSOs for Lostock Hall have responsibility for the north part of Farington, while the southern part of Farington still has a CBM and PCSO with responsibility for its area.

“So in reality Farington has two CBMs and two PCSOs.”

She said it’s ‘business as usual’ for the neighbourhood policing team, and engagement with the community will remain with street surgeries, parish council meetings and PACT (Police and Community Together) meetings.

“Police officers and PCSOs will still be out and about,” she added. “So response will come from the nearest available person in the case of an emergency.

“They’re not based in the office all the time, so, in theory, a police officer from Bamber Bridge or Preston might be on the streets of Farington or Leyland anyway. We’re trying to make this seamless, so that members of the community won’t notice the changes.”