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What are our expectations of our police service, and do they match up with reality? I’ve seen several stories lately that make me worried for the future of local policing. I’ll be raising questions with the Government when Parliament is back in session, but I wanted some feedback from local residents before I do.

A recent report by The Independent Police Complaints Commission - “Policing for a Better Britain” said that the number one priority for the public is: “A service that takes action – responsive, approachable, coming out quickly when called to incidents, acting on, following up and feeding back on progress to members of the public when they report crime and antisocial behaviour.”

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Despite this Sara Thornton, head of the National Police Chiefs' Council, recently said that the public should no longer expect police officers to turn up at their door if they are burgled because the changing nature of crime means that issues like sexual offences, terrorism and cyber-crime need to be focused on.

There was also a recent story about a trial by Leicestershire police to only investigate reported attempted burglaries at even-numbered homes.

My constituents want better than this and, frankly, they deserve better than this. I accept that traditional crimes like burglaries and car break-ins are reducing, but this should make it easier not harder to call in on victims of these crimes and investigate their concerns.

The number of people contacting me about anti-social behaviour issues because they feel nobody is listening is on the rise. There’s also been a number of stories in the local press about armed raids on shops in the middle of the day. People want assurance that the police will be there when they are needed and those who break the law will be brought to justice.

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The situation does not look like it will improve when we look to the future. Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has contacted me with worries about the way that the police are funded by the Government.

Since 2010 more than 1,500 police officers have been lost in Greater Manchester as a result of cuts - reducing from 8,100 to less than 6,600. Bolton alone has 136 fewer police officers.

The Home Office are suggesting changes to the funding formula for policing that could see Greater Manchester lose even more money. We could lose between 1,060 and 1,560 officers.

With the numbers of police officers cut back so drastically, how can we expect the service to improve? Do we just have to accept that police won’t come when we call for help unless it’s the most serious of crimes? I think it’s time for the Government to come clean on their plans to fund policing in the coming years and what sort of service this will actually give us.

What’s your expectation of our police? Have you any experience of them recently and did they help as you’d hoped? Is a change of focus from burglaries to more serious crimes something that you support? Let me know what you think.

Do cuts mean the police can never meet our expectations?

What are our expectations of our police service, and do they match up with reality? I’ve seen several stories lately that make me worried for the future of local policing....

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Today The Football Association have announced that they will invest a record £260m into the grassroots game over the next four years.

It is a £60m increase on the funding allotted for the previous four-year period, which ended this summer, so an extra £15m per year.

I welcome this increase and I hope that it will be well targeted to make sure as many children can access football as possible. However, this is just a small change and in isolation it is not going to address the huge problems facing grassroots football.

Local Councils continue to be drained of their resources, inevitably leading to reduced support for sports facilities and activities across the country. Teams and leagues are closing and some families are being priced out of the game. This is not sustainable without a major realignment to get the sport back on solid ground.

Today’s decision once again highlights the importance of the Save Grassroots Football campaign, which asks the Premier League to give more money back to the grassroots. I will continue to pressure the Government to take action and deliver a new settlement which will protect football for the next generation.

FA investment in grassroots football

Today The Football Association have announced that they will invest a record £260m into the grassroots game over the next four years.It is a £60m increase on the funding allotted...

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The services being run by Northern Rail and First Transpennine Express are currently going through the franchise system. Companies are competing with each other to produce the best deal so that they can run the services in the coming years.

One issue that keeps coming up during discussions around these bids is staffing. There has been talk of driver-only trains and ticket office closures in an effort to cut costs.

While I appreciate the need to keep costs low in order to provide good value to customers, I don’t think that these ideas reflect the reality of many people’s experiences with our local trains.

Ticket options can be confusing without someone there to talk to either on the train or at the station, particularly for those who travel less frequently. Of course there is demand for information and sales to take place in other ways, I’m not saying no to exploring alternatives, but there are people who just want someone to talk them through the options when they arrive at the station and we shouldn’t close off the service to them.

I’m concerned about access to the railway for those with mobility problems if there’s no staff around to assist them. With nobody in a ticket office at the smaller stations and nobody on board, who’s helping to put out a ramp or just lend a helping hand to someone unsteady on their feet? Are people going to have to let the train companies know days in advance exactly which trains they’ll be catching so that they can get a member of staff there?

Plus, with no conductor on board, who will ensure the safety of passengers during an emergency situation or just provide a calming presence if a tense situation arises between travellers?

Before the Parliamentary recess I signed Early Day Motion 147 (which you can see here) to express my support for these roles and ask the Government to value customer service as part of the franchise process and not just who can run things the cheapest.

What do you think about these ideas? Do we still need conductors and ticket offices or have they had their day? Leave a comment and let me know.

Train Staffing Levels

The services being run by Northern Rail and First Transpennine Express are currently going through the franchise system. Companies are competing with each other to produce the best deal so...

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