PUBLIC bodies have faced huge funding cuts since austerity was introduced nine years ago.

As well as councils and hospitals, the emergency services have seen frontline numbers reduced as bosses try to balance the books.

The police have had to re-prioritise they way they respond to and record crimes.

This has led to fewer visible officers on the streets and in towns, officers not turning out for routine calls such as theft, criminal damage and burglary, and some cases in which officers did not attend 999 calls when householders confronted masked offenders in their homes.

Levels of crime have not altered, putting further pressure on an already-stretched force.

After Westhoughton’s full police station was cut to just two PCs and three community support officers based in a different station, the town council took matters into its own hands.

It now pays for a hire car which officers can use to get around the town, as well as for undercover work.

People may question whether groups and individuals should be or should have to contribute towards policing in this way.

In an ideal world, that answer is a definite no.

But in the cash-strapped times in which we live, it is a case of needs must.

It is not privatisation of policing nor paying for preferential treatment. It is helping the officers be as efficient as possible.