A POLICE and crime commissioner candidate wants bobbies to get on their bikes to push up greater presence in Dorset communities.
Dorchester Mayor Andy Canning, who is standing for election as Lib Dem representative, said he wants to see a ‘big’ increase in the number of officers using pedal power if he is appointed.
He said: “Every community in Dorset deserves the most effective form of policing for their area. “That means maintaining a visible presence but being able to talk to residents and engage with them.
“Too often police officers are stuck in their cars and too remote from the public. “You may see them driving around but you can’t talk to them and just as importantly they can’t talk to you. “Effective policing relies on officers knowing their communities and too often the current set up doesn’t allow this to happen.
“I fully recognise that having officers on foot is the best form of policing in town centres and using cars is necessary for traffic police and rural areas. “However, the vast majority of us live in the residential areas of our towns. “The police don’t have the numbers to put someone on foot in every community and keeping them in their cars leaves them isolated.
“I want to see a big increase in the number of police officers on bikes. “It gives them the mobility to cover large areas while being able to talk with local residents and engage with local communities.”
But the manifesto has been met with questions over how it will work in the face of police cuts.
Dorset Police Federation chairman Clive Chamberlain said: “Cuts mean fewer police officers having to cover greater distances.
“To travel to respond to incidents, the bike may not necessarily be the most productive means of transport to ensure police officers get there.”
He added that greater presence on the street is a role filled by Community Support Officers.
He said: “There may be possible opportunities for more of them to patrol by bike.
“Some of them do already patrol on bicycles.”
Dorset will elect its first Police and Crime Commissioner on November 15.
Those standing for election along with Mr Canning are Labour candidate Rachel Rogers, Conservative Nick King and independent candidate Martyn Underhill.
Victim of crime Linda Sampson, whose car was stolen from Broadwey, Weymouth, said unless bikes mean better police presence at night, it will make no difference.
She added: “If they’re not going to be around at night, what’s the point? With the lights being switched off, they’re not going to send officers out in the pitch black, which is when vandalism happens. They need to concentrate on catching the criminals in the act.”
Transport Depends On Variety Of Factors
DORSET Police currently own 140 bicycles.
A spokesman said: “In Dorset Police we know that we must engage with people and communities, seeking to understand their needs, to keep them informed and to secure their involvement in taking action within their neighbourhoods to make those neighbourhoods safer.
“In order to provide a service that keeps people safe and feeling safe and to provide effective policing in a variety of circumstances our officers are provided with a range of equipment and vehicles. This includes cars, motorbikes, vans, bicycles and indeed other specialist vehicles.
“The allocation of these vehicles is determined by a variety of factors, such as the duties of the officers, the location that they work in and the policing needs of the local community.”