Yesterday afternoon the West Mercia police commissioner announced the very welcome news that Ludlow will once again operate as a police patrol base. The announcement came just hours before deputy commissioner Barrie Sheldon was to appear at a public meeting of the Ludlow and Clee Local Joint Committee dedicated to community safety and crime. It comes against a backdrop of increased crime in Ludlow and the surrounding area – burglaries have doubled in the last year. Our community has also been increasingly concerned with the lack of a regular police presence in the town and slow response times.
Ludlow police station was closed as an operational base 2013 along with the front counter service. Police were only based in the town when they were working here on specific duties. This year burglaries have soared and many have suspected that this is due to Ludlow getting a reputation as a town with no police presence during the night.
It was clear from the outset that closing Ludlow’s police station would cause problems. The overall crime rate may be lower in the Ludlow area than elsewhere but moving police out of town was simply an advert that the town is a soft target. The police station will become a patrol base again from 4 January 2016.
Chief Constable David Shaw told Shropshire Council in July that he was reviewing policing in our area, a move I welcomed. By then, we had already announced last night’s debate and it is great news that the return of a police base to Ludlow arrived just in time for our meeting last night.
At that meeting, Barrie Sheldon made it clear that the police base was being reopened here in response to community concerns. That point was echoed by Assistant Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman who told the Shropshire Star: “This is an example of us listening to what our communities are telling us about the service we are providing.”
We won’t be getting any more police officers; the current team will be split between Leominster and Ludlow. But the new arrangement will increase response times in our area. It will also give a more visible police presence, even if that is just police driving in and out of town to attend incidents.
This move will benefit a greater area than Ludlow. The policing area served by the Leominster base stretches from Kington to Bishop’s Castle, Marshbrook, Cleobury Mortimer, Tenbury Wells and Bromyard. Having police based in Ludlow will improve response times for Bishop’s Castle, Clun and Cleobury, and villages such as Clee.