Prime Minister talks crime with Arlesey

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When Ian Dalgarno contacted the Conservative Party about dropping crime levels he did not expect a visit from the Prime Minister.

But that was exactly what happened on Friday last week when David Cameron visited the WI Hall in Arlesey.

Central Beds Councillor Mr Dalgarno wrote to Conservative Central Office just five days earlier to tell the party about the 17 per cent decrease in crime in the area.

He said: “Burglary is down 30 per cent and anti-social behaviour eight per cent, and I asked them if they wanted to send someone down to talk to people in the town about it.

“I thought we might see a junior minister or official but then they said David Cameron was coming – I couldn’t believe it.”

Former Arlesey Town Councillor Mr Dalgarno, who also belongs to the Arlesey Residents’ Association (ARA) wanted the Prime Minister to meet members of the ARA, the Arlesey Community Safety Group and the town’s Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

Word quickly spread and when Mr Cameron arrived on Friday afternoon, a group of more than 20 had assembled to talk about policing in the area.

With the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections taking place on November 15 Mr Cameron also wanted to talk about PCCs.

He was accompanied by Conservative candidate for Bedfordshire Jas Parmar and North-East Beds MP Alistair Burt.

The three held a question and answer section where they were asked about the role PCCs will fulfil and cuts to officer numbers.

They in turn asked the group about anti-crime measures like Pubwatch and Neighbourhood Watch.

Although there were complaints that police officers and PCSOs were not always available to attend public meetings, members of the audience said that response times were quite speedy when police are called.

Mr Cameron said: “Although we have had no choice but to cut officer numbers we have moved thousands of staff who were in back office jobs into the front line.

“Our aim is to take from the tale and add to the teeth.”

Speaking about how PCCs will take on the role of the current Bedfordshire Police Authority, Mr Cameron said the elected candidate would have a higher public profile.

He added: “If I were to ask how many of you could tell me who is on the Police Authority and exactly what it does, you probably wouldn’t have a very clear idea.

“Police and Crime Commissioners will be very much in the public eye and accountable for what they do.”

Speaking after the visit Neighbourhood Watch volunteers John Button and John Savory said they were impressed by what Mr Cameron had to say.

Mr Savory said: “I very much enjoyed meeting the Prime Minister and talking about the important job that Neighbourhood Watch performs here.”

Mr Button added: “Neighbourhood Watch has had a major effect on reducing crime in Arlesey and we were pleased to talk to David Cameron about that.

“There is still a small amount of anti-social behaviour but it is a very safe place to live generally.”