Pressure builds over policing in Leighton
One of Leighton’s senior police officers is expected to get a grilling tonight about massive changes to policing in the town.
Inspector Jim Hitch, who is in charge of the town’s local policing team (Leighton’s six community support officers), has been asked to speak to Leighton-Linslade Town Council’s police liaison sub-committee about staffing changes which were introduced at the beginning of the month.
His presence comes after angry councillors heard that they were powerless to halt a massive overhaul in the way the force deploys its officers. Council leader David Bowater had a meeting with the Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock on October 5 to discuss the issue.
A Freedom of Information probe by Leighton-Linslade Town Council into the new policing model was rebuffed by the force and the LBO has now put its own FOI request in to the force asking it to spell out exactly who is left working at the police station.
Since the beginning of the month the town’s bobbies must start and end their shifts at Luton Police Station. If anyone is arrested they have to be taken to Luton for processing, taking them off the clock for hours on end.
Residents are also being asked to pay twice through their council tax if they want professionally qualified coppers, and not community police, on the beat.
Experienced officers with 30 years service are being forced to take retirement and the town’s Homewatch anti-crime initiative is in danger of collapse with the retirement of PCSO Fay Barrett who co-ordinated the scheme from the police station.
At the same time the ever-watching street cameras that keeps our streets safe may soon turn a blind eye to crime as Central Beds Council look at ways of cutting costs by axing fixed CCTV cameras in favour of re-deployable cameras that can be moved to hot spots. At present there are 99 fixed cameras in the district and only four re-deployable cameras.
Leighton-Linslade town councillor Kevin Pughe, who first blew the whistle on plans to downgrade the Peel Court police station in Hockliffe Road, is furious that Bedfordshire Police has been allowed to introduce sweeping changes to the way it operates without consulting the very people who are affected – residents.
> For more on this story see today’s LBO.
> Our reporter Anne Cox will be at the meeting, for a detailed report on the debate see next week’s LBO.
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west