Police cuts in Suffolk: we’ve heard the headlines. A ‘re-design’ of the force to save £20m will lose police officer, PCSO and civilian posts. Having talked to local officers it seems that the Woodbridge and District policing scenario will change – and not for the better. As follows:
From 1 April, the Woodbridge and District SNT will be reduced to a Sergeant, one or maybe two Police Officers and three PCSOs. Currently there is a Sergeant, three Police Officers and seven PCSOs. So thats about half the current staffing levels. (There is a possibility for Woodbridge to keep a match-funded PCSO, but it seems as if – match funding or otherwise – they will only be able to concentrate on what have been agreed as Suffolk-wide police priorities. Parking is not one of them!)
The SNT will remain in the new building so recently opened at the fire station in Theatre Street, Woodbridge.
However, I am appalled to discover that – although the relocation was ‘sold’ to the community and to their county councillor and the premises built specifically as a ‘convenient public access location’ which was only opened on 20 May 2015- it will no longer be a public access location!
(‘Better access for the public’ was one of the key benefits of the move – see my blog entry on the subject – June 14. This is the reason that the move from the old police station site got my support. I have not been officially told about this change of use – and my calls on the subject have not yet been returned. Presumably those at the top are embarrassed?)
Our only public access to Suffolk police will be at the three main police stations (Ipswich, Bury and Lowestoft), although there will be ‘intercoms’ to police headquarters to use at the front doors of other buildings . One hates to point it out, but this is ab-so-lut-ely no different to phoning the police from your home or from your mobile . (Indeed it would seem rather less useful than a loud scream for help).
And what you do if you lose something valuable or find something valuable I cannot imagine. These are not in the PCC’s priorities either!
Our reduced SNT will not be covering the same area – oh no. It will be covering an increased number of parishes – about 40 in total , including Martlesham and the villages to the north of Ipswich (Tuddenham, Westerfield, Playford etc).
Responding police officers (Neighbourhood Response Teams (NRT), for this area will be based at Police Headquarters. However, as well as covering the Woodbridge, Felixstowe, Martlesham and Kesgrave areas they will also have to police East Ipswich.
“Chances of seeing a policeman in a car will become vanishingly small,” I was told.
PCSOs within SNTs will no longer work past 6pm. Only the police officers will work evening shifts as per their shift pattern. NRTs will of course work 24 hours.