THE new man in charge of Rugby’s police has vowed to keep officers patrolling the streets - in the face of huge budget cuts.
Supt Martin Samuel claims Rugby is much safer than it was three years ago, despite Warwickshire Police reducing its £90m budget by over £16m in the last two years.
And he’s keen for police and townspeople to trust each other more.
He said: “It’s vital that people in Rugby don’t see a reduction in police presence.
“I want people in Rugby to be able to identify with their local police force and trust them. It’s important issues that are relevant to Rugby are dealt with by police who have the local knowledge and understanding at a street level.”
Supt Samuel is a qualified tactical firearms commander who’s been in the force for 22 years. His new role puts him in charge of policing across north Warwickshire.
The force still has to find £7m of savings by 2015, but Supt Samuel says officers on the front line would only be cut “as an absolute last resort”.
Last summer, Simon Payne, the chairman of Warwickshire Police Federation, said the force was being “systematically destroyed” by a lack of funding, after it was revealed the alliance with West Mercia Police would result in a loss of 650 jobs across the two forces.
But crime levels in Warwickshire are currently at an all-time low, despite alarm that savings would lead to a surge in crime.
Supt Samuel said: “One thing I also want to make sure of in my role is that the people of Rugby can identify that Rugby police are their own, and trust that they have an understanding of the specific issues affecting their neighbourhood or estate. This is important because even when crime is statistically low, people can still suffer from anxiety about it.
“I want people to be able to see police patrolling the streets so they can be sure we’re doing our jobs.”
Following an alliance between Warwickshire and West Mercia police forces, there are now seven policing areas covering Warwickshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, each with their own Superintendent. They’ve been tasked with assuring police can meet demand at a local level.
“Our Safer Neighbour Teams have a been a big success story, improving our relationship with the public and cutting crime – my priority will be to continue that good work,” said Supr. Samuel.
“Rugby has the best Community Safety Partnership in the county and that has had some tremendous success in recent years. Likewise last year’s Operation Laser, which lead to the arrest of dozens of people involved in drugs trafficking, is a sign that when we work with the community and other organisations we can get things right.”
Earlier this year Warwickshire police increased its share of council tax by 3.9 per cent, £6.86 a year for a band D household, to protect the jobs of 26 police officers.