Police taking the bus to go out on patrol is putting public at risk, claims MP

AN MP has claimed police officers in his constituency are being forced to waste time by taking public transport rather than cars to go out on the beat in rural areas.

Bassetlaw’s Labour MP John Mann made the claim during Prime Minister’s Question Time yesterday, prompting an angry response from David Cameron. He said: “Government cuts having closed the police cells in Bassetlaw, I now discover that police are having to patrol villages using public transport.

“Which begs the question I would like to ask the PM. If the police are waiting at a bus stop having arrested someone, should they go upstairs; should they go downstairs; or should they not arrest at all?”

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Mr Cameron replied: “He didn’t mention that recorded crime in the Bassetlaw community safety partnership is down 27 per cent.

“Every member opposite is getting up and complaining about the need to make reductions in departmental spending.

“Frankly this is like back to the future – we are back now to where we were three years ago, where we said you’ve got to make difficult decisions, you’ve got to make some cuts, you’ve got to get the deficit down, and they lived in total denial.”

Mr Mann later denied that crime had fallen by 27 per cent in his predominantly rural constituency in North Nottinghamshire, saying it had risen by two per cent since April compared with the same time period the year before.

He added: “Police officers are forced to take the bus instead of a patrol car to their beat area, and on one recent occasion the bus broke down and it took two-and-a-half hours for the police to begin their beat. This not only wastes police time, but puts local residents at an increased risk of being the victims of crime.”

According to website UK Crime Stats, there were 5,943 offences in Bassetlaw between April and the end of October, a 4.6 per cent drop compared with the same period in 2012.

Inspector Phil Davies, who works in West Bassetlaw for Nottinghamshire Police, said: “If there are arrests to be made then we will always use police vehicles for that.

“Using public transport is just another option of getting around and this allows us to meet people and have a presence.”

He said it was “not a reaction to financial cuts” but allowed officers to engage with local people while going out on jobs.