POLICE have pledged to work with the community to help reduce crime in a village that was hit by two-armed robberies towards the end of last year.

The promise, from Chief Inspector John Bullas came at a meeting held at The Barlow, in Edgworth, called by Jake Berry MP, after a sharp increase in crime, including robberies, burglaries and vandalism in the area.

Also addressing the packed meeting of about 250 people, were   Inspector Abid Khan and Sergeant Shaun Pearson from Lancashire Police as well as Roger Baines MBE, chairman of Lancashire Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.

But there was anger when Mr Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, said Clive Grunshaw, Police and Crime Commissioner had not been able to attend, despite being offered three separate dates in January.

At the beginning of the meeting Mr Berry said the huge turnout showed there was a 'fantastic village spirit’ in Edgworth, Turton and the wider rural community.

He added: “It also reflects the concern I have picked up from my casework and from talking to people about what seems to be a bit of a crimewave in rural areas.”

Mr Berry also stressed that it was important that all crime was reported in order to give police an idea of the scale of the problem and a basis for requesting more resources.

Armed raid at Edgworth Post Office, Blackburn Road

Armed robbers threaten staff and flee with £14,000 from post office in Edgworth

One of the angriest contributions of the morning came from Nigel Dickinson, landlord at The White Horse, who told how police did not attend a break-in at his pub for 14 hours, despite staff calling 999 while intruders were still on the premises.

Mr Dickinson also later questioned the point of Neighourhood Watch Schemes if there was not an effective police force.

Responding to the point about the White Horse, CI Bullas said: “All I can do is apologise, it’s clearly not acceptable, I don’t know the detail behind it but we can take that away and look at it and come back with an explanation. Clearly it’s wrong.”

Other issues raised were the visibility of police in the village, the amount of time PCSOs spent patrolling areas and the number of police available for deployment in the event of a serious crime, such as an armed robbery.

In response, Inspector Khan told residents that an unmarked 4x4 would be liveried as a police vehicle to provide a more visible deterrent to criminals.

And the officers said they would ensure the vehicle would patrol back roads and residential areas after complaints from residents it was only ever seen driving up and down the main road.

Inspector Khan also told villagers that there would be an increase in officers working with their counterparts in Greater Manchester Police, as criminals tend to move into areas like Edgworth when there is a clampdown on crime in urban areas.

And residents were reassured that, despite huge financial pressures, funding had been agreed to recruit new police officers for the area, which has been served by two PCSOs since 2015.

CI Bullas added: “It’s always tricky and difficult to hear some of the specific examples of where we have let people down. I don’t want to get defensive, clearly we have covered a lot of the points in terms of funding, but I appreciate you want an effective and efficient service.

“Clearly we have to work with you to work with you to better understand exactly what you feel you deserve.

“We are going to take a lot of points raised and we are committed to coming back, either as a working group or a small group where we can discuss points and take things forward.

“We are really committed to providing a police service, we didn’t come into the police to come to tricky meetings and feel like we are letting people down, but we are determined to do something about it.”