MORE than £1.2 million has been handed to charitable organisations and good causes by the office of Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) since 2016.

Through a Freedom of Information request, Runcorn resident Darrin Whyte asked David Keane’s office to provide the sum of money it has paid to charities or good causes since his election.

It can be revealed that £1,232,178 has been given – which has come from the community safety fund, safer communities fund and Ministry of Justice (MOJ) grant funding for the local commissioning of victims’ support services.

Mr Whyte said: “I’m sure some of these projects that have been funded will be beneficial in the fight in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

“The cuts to youth services have a knock-on effect for everyone, every young person needs somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to.

“The cuts to youth services will be having a devastating impact on young lives across Warrington, so this has an effect on crime and anti-social behaviour, anyone who thinks those cuts have zero effect on young teenagers need to think again.”

Deputy chairman of Warrington Conservatives Andy Carter has also issued a statement on the issue.

He says: “It’s hardly surprising these types of FOI questions are being raised by concerned Cheshire residents against Mr Keane – we’ve seen a 13 per cent increase in the commissioner’s precept, crime levels are increasing, satisfaction in the service being delivered falling and Warrington council have axed their support for PCSOs in the town, at a time when community policing is being championed by Mr Keane.

“There’s no transparency about the work being done by those organisations receiving grants from his office.

“The funding provided by the MOJ, to be allocated to groups in Cheshire, should be transparent and good governance would also suggest that the outcomes of their work should be monitored and reported back at regular intervals.”

But Labour’s Mr Keane – who is also a Penketh and Cuerdley borough councillor – has responded and moved to provide clarity.

He said: “The funding awarded by my office to charitable organisations or good causes are not charitable donations.

“They are funds which have been awarded to commissioned services, which work tirelessly to support victims of crime.

“This funding is provided through a specific grant from the MOJ to PCCs.

“This includes funding for the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre and Remedi, who provide restorative justice services across Cheshire.

“Funding from my safer communities fund and community safety fund has also benefitted charitable organisations or good causes, which work hard to prevent crime throughout Cheshire.

“All organisations that receive funding from the office of the PCC are required to feedback on the outcomes of their work regularly.

“These outcomes are reported to the MOJ, where appropriate, and also through my annual report and website.

“My office is not responsible for any reductions in funding for youth services.

“I have maintained funding for youth justice services over the last year and continue to fund a vast array of projects which support young people in our communities.”

Mr Keane also defended the police precept rise.

He added: “In regards to this year’s policing precept, this has been increased to the level suggested by Government, following a consultation with Cheshire residents in which there was strong support for an increase to the precept to recruit additional frontline police officers.

“The precept will allow us to recruit 43 additional frontline police officers and seven PCSOs in 2019.

“Against a background of £60 million worth of cuts, we have lost 135 officers in Cheshire since 2010 but the recruitment of these additional frontline resources will help start to address the adverse effects austerity has had on policing.”