‘This is a substantial change’ - Towns hit out after losing police presence
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Two towns which have been stripped of a police presence in the latest restructuring of the force are calling for more to be done in rural communities.
Beccles and Bungay will no longer have Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) operating in the towns – prompting fears police will lose touch with the communities.
As part of Suffolk Police's new neighbourhood model the number of PCSOs has been reduced from the equivalent of 81 full-time officers to 48.
And while the scheme will see more than 100 police officers move into Safer Neighbourhood Teams, none will be based in the towns.
Instead both towns will be covered by the police and PCSOs based in Lowestoft.
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Bungay mayor Mick Lincoln said residents 'couldn't help but notice' the declining police presence in the town.
He said: 'From the perspective of the people of Bungay we would like to see more police.
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'It's something councillors get asked about; people are concerned the presence is less than it used to be.
'But it's not as straightforward as that, I'm aware the police are under pressure.'
Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, mayor of Beccles, has had a similar experience with residents.
She said: 'This is a substantial change. There used to be a wider pool of resources for the police which seems to have been stripped in the latest reorganisations.
'People find the bobby on the beat really reassuring. I'm convinced just having a police presence affects crime statistics positively – just knowing there is someone to go to.'
And while both mayors were keen to highlight police still reacted quickly in emergency situations they still feel their towns will miss out on a grassroots level.
Mrs Brambley-Crawshaw added: 'You won't have someone with local knowledge, someone who knows the road names and the town's major issues.'
Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, said he was aware of residents' fears.
He said: ''I understand the concerns of the people of Beccles - residents want as many officers as possible on the front line.
'The local policing model which has just been introduced has placed an extra 104 police officers into the Safer Neighbourhood Teams.
'In order to do this some police roles have been civilianised, officers have been moved from central to local teams and regrettably the number of PCSOs will reduce, but the outcome will be more officers will be available for local policing.'