Is the level of crime increasing in our area?
In the year to the end of April (latest figures available), 1132 incidences of crime were reported in Wantage and Grove.
At a meeting held in the Beacon on 11 June reported in the Herald last week almost 90 people listened to Deputy Police Commissioner and District Councillor Matthew Barber and Superintendent Rory Freeman provide an update.
According to Superintendent Freeman crime has risen recently and, as Thames Valley Police have £100 million less in funding than they had 6 years ago, they have to prioritise.
He said that the police have to assess incidents based on the scale of vulnerability and the availability of data.
If a crime is in progress, when there is danger to life, when violence is being used or threatened or if it's an emergency, then phone 999.
Call 101 to report crime and other concerns that do not require an emergency response: if your car has been stolen, your property has been damaged, you suspect drug use or dealing in your neighbourhood or to give the police information about crime in your area.
Superintendent Freeman admitted that some victims will be disappointed with the service provided when their incident hasn’t been prioritised, but since last year the neighbourhood policing team for Wantage and Area, (a sergeant, two constables and five police community support officers) have been ring-fenced for this area, meaning they are called to incidents outside our area less often.
Many of the questions from those attending the meeting related to the lack of a visible police presence since the Police Station closed and the increase in drug and alcohol related crime in the area.
Anti-social behaviour was mentioned along with illegal parking. Both of these are also partially the responsibility of the local authorities. It was suggested that more needs to be done to occupy young people and that parking should be the responsibility of the District Council not the Police.
We will not get our police station back and visible officers in town would not be responding to crime but simply providing a deterrent which may be a luxury that we can’t afford anymore.
As Matthew Barber said “The Wantage & Grove area remains an incredibly safe place to live, both absolutely and comparatively, but this does not take away from the genuine concerns that people have or the distress for those who have been the victims of crime.”