High crime rates in Ross ignited serious concerns among local councillors who demand increased police presence and action.
At the full council meeting on 9 October, the issue of rising crime was the first topic of discussion, given the town’s unfortunate ranking as the second most crime-hit small town in Herefordshire.
Cllr Julian Utting expressed both surprise and fury.
He said: “I didn’t realise that the crime rate was so high and I’m even more furious about the lack of police presence on our streets.”
He took issue with the absence of police representatives at council meetings and called for a formal letter to be sent to Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion, who he suggested should be voted out.
Cllr Utting emphasised: “I don’t want to see a repeat of 2023.”
Mayor Louis Stark confirmed that he had previously raised the issue with the PCC. “They’re well aware,” he said, but added that there is a “disjoint between what seems to be happening in the streets and how the police are behaving.”
Cllr John Winder pointed to the nationwide decline in police numbers over the last 13 years as context but did not excuse the lack of a local police response. While Cllr Rob Taylor recounted an incident involving eight police cars, stating that despite their presence, “the youngsters just carried on breaking glass.”
Recent reports reveal Ross-on-Wye’s crime rate stood at 84 crimes per 1,000 residents in 2022, overshadowing Herefordshire’s average by 29 per cent. Violence and sexual offences dominated the crime charts with 372 reported cases in 2022, a 1.4 per cent increase from the previous year. In contrast, nearby Ledbury was 36 per cent safer.
The data also revealed worrying trends in burglaries and criminal damage, even though Ross-on-Wye’s crime rate is 15 per cent lower than the West Midlands. Mayor Louis Stark mentioned that the Police and Crime Commissioner, John Campion, resources according to risk in terms of safety, but the councillors believe that “the resources don’t match the risk” in Ross-on-Wye.