A NEW police task force targetting organised crime groups, burglars, drug dealers and cross-border criminals has been launched in Pendle.

The team of four officers is the first of nine task forces to be launched across the county, specifically focussing on local priorities, including tackling anti-social and targeting wanted criminals. Other areas to get the dedicated team of five officers are Blackburn and Burnley.

The task force will work alongside existing neighbourhood officers, who have responsibility for specific geographical areas within their team. However the task force officers will work across the entire neighbourhood team patch, with a focus on proactively investigating areas of crime, highlighted as priorities by residents within the patch.

Sgt Scott Boast said: “Neighbourhood policing teams have three core principles; community engagement, problem solving and targetting criminal activity.

“The task force officers will have responsibility for ownership of local priorities that have been set with those relationships we have already got within our communities.

“Those priorities are very much dependant on the area you live. In one area organised crime may be prevalent, while in another the priority might be tackling anti-social behaviour.”

The task force officers have been funded by a rise in the police’s council tax precept and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw said it is the first time since 2010 investment is being made into policing in the county with additional officers going into every district.

Mr Grunshaw said: “This is about reconnecting with our communities across Lancashire and getting back to proactive policing and dealing with community concerns. I really hope this is just the start of investment back into policing here in Lancashire and I continue to lobby Government to demand we get back our fair share of police officers that we have lost during austerity.”

Mr Grunshaw said specialist target teams are also being strengthened to tackle cross border crime and criminality, focusing on burglary and robbery. He said there has also been an uplift in detective numbers following public feedback to prioritise investigations around major crimes, child exploitation and domestic abuse.

A new drone team is also operational across the force, with two drones paid for by the proceeds of crime, and a team of four officers funded by the council tax precept.

Ch Supt Sam Mackenzie said: “The introduction of these officers is great news and puts extra officers into our communities.

“The roll out of the neighbourhood policing task force will help us to continue tackling key crime hotspots.

“I expect their impact to be significant in every corner of the county. I believe these officers will make a real difference in our community and look forward to seeing the effects they have.”