Bobbies will be back on the beat in Eden as a new rural community policing push will see officers permanently based at previously unmanned stations in Appleby, Shap and Alston.
Austerity cuts over the last decade meant that in 2010 moves were made to withdraw police from being based in the smaller stations and all officers instead operated from a central Penrith hub.
It has been announced by Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall that officers will be returning to rural areas to provide an enhanced visible presence and more capacity to respond to local concerns.
Cumbria’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Slattery said there remains a demand across the force dealing with issues of domestic violence, child protection and violent crime but this will be balanced against the need for more rural policing.
Officers will be based in Shap, Appleby and Alston which he said will allow them the respond to crimes quicker and help build a more consistent picture of what is needed in the area while continuing to be on hand for Penrith and Carlisle if in demand.
Based at the three stations, which have largely stood empty for the past decade, officers will cover the surrounding areas — for example with Alston police extending over to Garrigil and the border with Northumbria, while police Appleby will cover over towards Brough and Kirkby Stephen.
“We have always had police policing these areas but due to austerity we had difficult decisions to make and we had to move their base so from 2010 in Eden we were based in Penrith.”
Police chiefs are hoping to move will help them in the fight against the long standing issue of rural crime from farms and of agricultural machinery. In a bid to reduce this officers will be working with neighbouring forces to get to know travelling criminals who cross the border into Cumbria to strike.
He said officers will be more proactive within communities identifying and solving problems rather than an officer potentially based out of the county being sent in response to crimes.
The scheme has already been successfully piloted in Keswick, Brampton and Ambleside since March. In Ulverston a “blue light hub” has been set up as part of an agreement Cumbria Police has made with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service allowing them to use their less used premises — something that will be explored further and new locations potentially added.
The change to how Eden will be policed has been made possible due to public support for an increase in the police part of the council bill proposed by the police and crime commissioner.
Mr McCall said: “The first issue every member of the public talks to me about is police visibility, the public want to see the police and — there’s no question about it — we need more cops.
“There were 1,120 officers in Cumbria when I started and at that stage I thought if I finish with the same level we’ll have done well but due to the increase in council tax — which I make no apologies for — we get an extra 45 officers across the county and now an uplift of 20,000 nationally in three phases.”
Last year Cumbria recruited 51 new police officers — the first force in the country to recruit it’s allotted numbers.
“By getting them into rural areas our officers can be getting familiar with the area and be seen by the public to get back to community policing.”
The move is part of a national change to policing — dubbed Operation Uplift — and will be rolled out in three phases. Mr McCall said how many new officers Cumbria Police will be able to recruit in the next phases is due to be announced this month and he hoped it could see an additional 100 roles.
Police Community Support Officers who have been working in the rural areas will police alongside the new officers and Eden PCSO Tony Labram said it was a positive move which “the public have been crying out for”.