A Lancaster businessman armed himself with a baseball bat for protection after police failed to respond to the second burglary in a month at his hair salon.
Graham Cass, from Jo and Cass in Dalton Square, said he and other business owners feel that Lancaster is now “un-policed” due to government budget cuts, and questioned whether it would take “anarchy” for more police funding to be allocated.
Mr Cass said his business’ burglary alarm was triggered at around 10pm on Tuesday August 1, prompting him to race to his premises to find out what was happening.
When he got there, his alarm sensors showed a man was still inside the building, and after Mr Cass contacted police, he armed himself with the bat, while, he said, the thief made his way out of the back door. The salon was previously burgled on July 1, and Mr Cass said enough was enough. On this occasion, staff tips boxes were stolen during the raid.
He said: “After the first burglary, the police were initially too busy to attend and didn’t go to see the guy. We were burgled again last night, and again, when I got there, the guy was still in. I’m a five foot seven hairdresser, so not exactly Rocky Balboa, so I had a baseball bat for protection.
“The police would not come out, indeed they didn’t answer the phone until we eventually dialled 999. I’ve had several conversations with other business owners who also feel Lancaster is now un-policed.
“Will it take anarchy to get funding for more police?”
Lancaster Police said it attended the scene the next morning.
Lancaster MP Cat Smith said the government had let down police, with £72m cut from Lancashire Constabulary since 2010, and a further £20m cut expected by 2020. There are 800 fewer police and 450 fewer police staff across the county since 2010.
Ms Smith said: “Sadly, I think we are all seeing the impact of this. The spate of break ins in Lancaster city centre businesses are part of a national increase in crime but no one should have to live their lives in fear of crime. This means ensuring the police have the resources they need to tackle the new and emerging threats to public safety and crime.
“The cornerstone to effective policing is visible neighbourhood policing with officers working with communities to prevent crime as well as tackle it.”
Ms Smith added that she and other Lancashire MPs have this week written a cross party letter to the Home Office about police funding issues across the county.
Lancashire Constabulary had not responded as the Lancaster Guardian went to press. Lancashire Police’s Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has also been contacted for comment.