AN action group has demanded a stronger police presence in its town following a spate of break-ins.

Kevin Horkin, one of the leading members of the Clitheroe Town Action Group, said the war on criminal behaviour ‘will be lost’ if extra officers are not brought into the town.

The call came after a spate of thefts, including a safe with a few days’ takings, from Blueberry’s Café in New Market Street.

Crime figures from Safer Lancashire, obtained by the group, revealed the number of calls made to the police had risen by more than 73 per cent from this time last year. The most common crime was burglary.

The group is made up of Clitheroe traders and councillors, with the aim of improving the town centre.

Mr Horkin said residents have become concerned with the amount of break-ins and other incidents, such as anti-social behaviour.

He said: “This is a serious issue. Something needs to be done about it urgently.

“With the closure of the police desks in Clitheroe and Longridge and the shutting of the police house in Whalley it feels like we have no police presence in the Ribble Valley.

“The deterrent effect on criminals has been lost. The danger is that the war on criminal behaviour will be lost.

“The Ribble Valley has become a much more violent place.”

Cllr Ged Mirfin, chairman of the group, said: “The concern is that there is a disparity between the number of calls made to the police over the last 12 months - 8,750 and the number of recorded crimes - just 2,255 - a ratio of just one in four or 25.77 per cent, this needs explaining. It is perfectly evident that there is a problem with response times.

“Crimes are being reported but by the time the police show up from either Blackburn, Colne or Preston the perpetrators have disappeared.”

Nigel Evans, Ribble Valley’s MP, said: “People are under the impression that there are no police in the Ribble Valley particularly on the weekends.

“The result has been an increase in burglary, theft from vehicles and stolen vehicles in outlying villages.”

Lancashire Police were contacted for a comment.