Row over petition for more officers in Newport
A row has broken out over the number of police officers in Newport after the launch of a petition calling for an increase.
The Liberal Democrats in the town have launched a petition calling on West Mercia Police to provide extra police numbers after concerns Newport had become a "soft target".
They say there are only 8.5 police officers per 100,000 population in the region.
But police and crime commissioner John Campion says the figure is nearly 160 police officers short of the real figure per 100,000, and that the petition is "dangerously misleading" and "wholly inaccurate".
The petition, devised by Councillor Thomas Janke, is supported by fellow Newport candidates Sarah Sydra, Nick Garvey and David Ellams.
Councillor Thomas Janke said: "We have had a recent spate of thefts and burglaries in Newport, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that criminals see Newport as a 'soft target'. Yet residents rarely see a police officer in town.
"Recent statistics reveal that West Mercia Police has just 8.5 front line officers per 100,000 population, the second lowest ratio in the UK. This is completely unacceptable.
"An additional 115 police are being recruited by West Mercia but not one of these will be stationed in Telford and Wrekin - even though our council tax will rise to cover them. I hope residents will support me and my colleagues by signing and sharing our petition. We can and will demand better for Newport than what John Campion is offering."
Mr Campion said: “The figures referenced in this petition are dangerously misleading and the people responsible should withdraw them. To claim that West Mercia has just 8.5 front line police officers per 100,000 population is wholly inaccurate.
“My budget for 2019/20 will take officer numbers in West Mercia to 2,145, their highest level since 2012. This equates to 168 officers per 100,000 population. At best, the claims made in this petition show an unacceptable lack of research, understanding, and attention to detail. At worst they are a wilful misrepresentation.
“My commitment around the uplift in officer numbers is clear. Every community will see the benefits of this additional resource, and that includes Newport. Emergency responses will get faster, access to police officers will improve, victim satisfaction will increase, and the police will be more visible in the community.
“The demands of this petition are already being delivered, which I am afraid only lowers its credibility even further as a very poorly researched and ill-thought through political stunt."