On Thursday 9th February, Oswestry Town Council held an open community meeting on local policing and crime.

The meeting was attended by Helen Morgan, MP for North Shropshire; John Campion, West Mercia Police & Crime Commissioner; Superintendent Stuart Bill of West Mercia Police;  Jay Moore, Oswestry Town Mayor; Oswestry Town Councillors; Oswestry BID and members of the public.

The purpose of the meeting was to raise and discuss issues facing the town in policing and crime. The meeting was chaired by Oswestry Town Mayor, Councillor Jay Moore and after introductions from panel members Helen Morgan, John Campion and Stuart Bill, the floor was opened for public questions.

The following issues were raised: –

  • Levels of policing in Oswestry streets, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • General policing numbers in Oswestry and how this compares with the national average.
  • How Oswestry crime levels compare to the national average.
  • How to deal with anti-social behaviour with neighbours.
  • Lack of custody cells in Oswestry police station.
  • What is the plan for repeat offenders?
  • What can be done about shop lifting in town and response times once reported?
  • Views regarding community groups to help police and the prevention of crime i.e. shop watch, pub watch etc..
  • Mental health / addictions and how this affects crime. A multi-agency approach required.
  • Questions raised on Oswestry crime statistics and perceived low prosecution rates.
  • How can we improve public support and respect for the police?
  • Views on civilian street pastor schemes.
  • Why haven’t local drug dealers been arrested?
  • Lack of resource.
  • Licensing of air rifles – reported incidents of cats being shot.
  • What can we do as a community to help the police?

Throughout the discussions, some common themes emerged as follows: –

  • Resource
    • West Mercia Police has 2500 police officers and an annual budget of £270 million
    • Forty additional officers budgeted for in 2023.
    • The police often solve crime that we do not see, which is online or within the home – this is an increasing part of their job.
    • 53% of calls received by the police are not for them, so measures will be implemented to re-direct these calls to the correct agencies.
    • Oswestry policing levels are in line or above national levels. One of five Shropshire patrol bases is in Oswestry. Each base is supplemented with an SNT (Safer Neighbourhood Team).
    • West Mercia Police currently investing in problem solving policing and a multi-agency approach to help prevent crime.
    • Individual cases raised will be followed up after the meeting.
  • In 2021 there were 24 county lines in Shropshire. Currently there are 4 and no active county line in Oswestry. This is a continuous battle, and we must remain vigilant.
  • The biggest killer in Shropshire is on the roads, so road traffic enforcement and calming measures are vitally important.
  • We are all encouraged to report crime and to sign up to Neighbourhood Matters – West Mercia Police’s new community messaging service.
  • Through Neighbourhood Matters, the public can sign up for local police alerts; receive information about crime in their area, find out about drop-in sessions, answer surveys, and more.

Oswestry Town Council would like to thank everyone that attended and for their engagement in all the issues raised. A good constructive meeting, but clearly there is work to do and we must all remain vigilant.

Key links

Reporting crime: https://www.westmercia.police.uk/…/how-to-report-a-crime/

Neighbourhood Matters initiative: https://neighbourhoodmatters.co.uk/

Photo credit: Graham Mitchell.