Answering your questions on crime

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POLICING the new Barton West estate, Operation Bullfinch and cycling on footpaths were among the issues raised as Oxford met the police and crime commissioner.

PCC Anthony Stansfeld spoke and took questions at the Barton Neighbourhood Centre on Monday evening.

Twenty-six people, including councillors, attended the meeting held as part of the commissioner’s bid to meet the public and hear about crime concerns.

Mr Stansfeld told the small audience: “I always work on the principle that the more people turn up the bigger the problem.”

The PCC – elected in November last year – explained his work as he spoke for 20 minutes.

He said he expected council tax to rise by two per cent next year to cover the cost of policing amid spending cuts, and said: “In spite of these huge cuts we have taken, the actual performance of the police has improved remarkably.”

Superintendent Christian Bunt, the local area commander for Oxford, told the meeting crime had fallen by 14 per cent in the city in the last financial year.

He said: “I can assure you, me – and I know – my staff are absol-utely committed to policing in Oxford, and if we are not getting things right, tell us.”

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Cllr Mike Rowley, Oxford City Council member for Barton and Sandhills, asked the panel if Barton’s police base would be moved when nearly 900 homes are built at Barton West.

Supt Bunt said he wanted the Barton police base to stay at the neighbourhood centre.

And he repeated a promise that more officers should be provided with the housing.

When asked about nationwide population growth and immigration, Mr Stansfeld said the force would need an extra 18 officers every year to cope.

He said: “Anything that increases the population when we are not increasing the size of police causes me concern.”

The commissioner and Supt Bunt were also asked to have more of an input into planning applications involving such things as cycle paths, and were asked to explain what lessons had been learned since the Operation Bullfinch investigation into organised child sex exploitation in Oxford.

Speaking after the meeting, Barton Community Association secretary Sue Holden said: “There were some really valuable points made and now people have a much better understanding of what the PCC is about.”

Nicola Luckett, of Bernwood Road on the Barton estate, said she now knew more about the PCC and his job.

The 44-year-old said: “It’s good to have a focal person and to put a face to the name.”

And 79-year-old Frank Bland, from Summertown, said: “It was very informative.”

Mr Stansfeld told the Oxford Mail the public attendance had been about average for what he had seen across the Thames Valley so far.

He said: “It is useful for me to see what the problems are, and most of the problems raised were of a very local nature.”

The PCC spoke at Banbury Town Hall in September and Didcot Civic Centre last month. He is due to speak at Wantage Civic Centre in January and Witney’s Langdale Hall in March.

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