A FORMER member of the police and crime commissioner’s panel has urged the current commissioner to improve the quality of policing after historic chains and badges were stolen from a council chamber.

Ken Hind, the former Ribble Valley Council leader, has spoke out after five sets of former Bowland, Clitheroe and Blackburn district council chains and badges worth £15,250 were stolen from the council’s civic suite during the early hours of Monday.

Police are reviewing CCTV footage from inside the suite.

Mr Hind said: “Burglars had free rein to break in through the emergency exits, smash open the cases containing valuable municipal chains and make off with them without council security or the police being in a position to do anything about it.

“Presumably by now they have been melted down and lost to the borough’s heritage for ever.”

This incident comes days after a separate incident involving a woman stealing a coat worth around £250 from Ken Varey Town and Country Wear store in the town centre last week.

Mr Hind said he supports the police, but believes the current policing model is not working.

He said: “It is not acceptable for the police station in Clitheroe, 200 yards from the council chamber, to be a darkened, deserted, silent building at night, closed to the public permanently during the day.

“Retreating from rural policing, closing police station front desks in Clitheroe and Longridge and leaving the largest geographical borough in Lancashire with no public access is unacceptable.”

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner said: “Clitheroe police station remains operational and the closure of the front counter service in 2018 has not changed how the area is policed.

“In addition to the dedicated neighbourhood teams across the Ribble Valley, the police draw on response officers, detectives, specialist units and a wider pool of policing resources to respond to incidents wherever they may happen.

“Earlier this year I wrote to all councils, inviting discussions around investment from local authorities to help support the core policing offer in their areas and to work together to improve community safety, for which each council plays an important role.

“I understand my office is yet to receive any response or proposals from Ribble Valley Council, in spite of their reserve levels being over 200 per cent of their budget - the highest as proportion of annual budget in 2019/20 across any Lancashire local authority, according to publicly available figures.

“This compares to policing reserves of 10 per cent of overall budget, at a time when the government continues to squeeze policing budgets, leaving very little for unexpected events."