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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Crimes in Carlisle being hidden by victims - claim

Crimes are being hidden in Carlisle because victims have lost confidence in the police, an ex-officer has warned.

David Morton photo
David Morton

David Morton, a Carlisle city councillor, also alleges that Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) don’t have enough powers to effectively fight crime.

Mr Morton, a former police sergeant, issued the warning as latest figures reveal burglaries and thefts from vehicles have soared in Carlisle.

A new report shows a rise in burglaries from homes, businesses and non-domestic premises with 348 incidents in 2010 increasing to 436 in 2012, as well as a 43 per cent increase in thefts from vehicles over two years.

The report reveals that overall crime in Carlisle is dropping, with 6,847 recorded offences last year compared to 7,463 the previous year.

But Mr Morton, who represents Belah, believes many victims don’t actually report crimes in the first place.

He told the News & Star: “I believe a lot of crime goes unreported simply because there are occasions where people have reported incidents before and no-one has turned up or nothing has been done.

“However, that’s not to detract from the good work that police are doing when their hands are tied behind their backs.

“Money is short, not withstanding recent austerity measures – the number of officers on the streets is clearly reducing.”

Mr Morton also questioned how effective PCSOs are in reducing crime.

He added: “They don’t have the powers themselves so it’s a pointless exercise.”

However, council leaders insist Carlisle is still a “safe and crime-free” city and police have stressed the importance of reporting crime.

Council leaders pored over the draft report from Cumbria Intelligence Observatory, which analyses official crime statistics. Members of the authority’s ruling executive agreed that the report should undergo further scrutiny.

Jessica Riddle, the council’s portfolio holder for communities, admitted figures in the report may appear “alarming” but added that overall crime has fallen by more than 13 per cent. She told councillors: “Crime levels in Carlisle continue to fall year on year so the city is still a safe and crime-free place to live.”

The report also says that Botcherby, St Aidan’s and Castle are the wards with the most domestic burglaries.

Harraby, Castle and Upperby are worst for burglaries from non-domestic premises. And Belah, Currock and Denton Holme have the most thefts from vehicles.

Mrs Riddle added: “The statistics for Castle and Currock are particularly high but within those two wards we have Botchergate and the night-time economy so that increases the figures.”

Detective Sergeant Jason Priestley, who is based in Carlisle, has previously called on the community to speak to officers about any concerns.

“Any piece of information can be vital,” he said.

Cumbria police were unavailable for further comment.

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