Taxpayers to pay for police THREE times?
Leighton-Linslade faces the prospect of paying for policing not once, not twice, but THREE times as services remain under threat of being lost to other towns in Bedfordshire with higher crime rates.
In a letter being discussed last night at Leighton-Linslade Town Council’s policy and finance committee, Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock says the budgetary pressure facing the force will force him to reduce the numbers of both police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs).
With the public paying a police precept in their council tax bill, and the town council already contributing a further £40,000 of taxpayers’ cash annually to ensure extra patrols through Operation Dodford, the Chief Constable is now asking all councils if any are prepared to find a further £30,000 towards the cost of keeping a PCSO in their area.
Tight finances mean Mr Hitchcock foresees that the total number of PCSOs across Bedfordshire could fall from 108 to as a low as 72, unless councils can help out.
A single PCSO for the town has been priced at £30,756 per annum, plus the cost of a ‘Corsa-type vehicle’ at £3,518.52.
Leighton’s deputy town council leader Amanda Dodwell demanded assurances last year that the town wasn’t subsidising regular policing through its Operation Dodford initiative.
Councillor Dodwell said this week: “I can’t see as a town council how we can fund this extra policing. I do not think it is fair on the public, who already contribute money as part of the police precept, to pay for a service they already pay for.
“With the Dodford funding we can direct a police force to a particular area or event and decide if a sergeant is needed. With a PCSO we don’t have that option. The problem is they do not have the power of arrest like sergeants do.
“I feel that at the moment the police are very Luton-centric and they don’t understand rural areas. We need to fight for what we deserve.
“The town council has other services to fund for. We do give some part to policing and we are helping the police force out, but we can’t pigeon £70K.
“I am not sure as a country that we should go down the road of private policing. It will end up that big companies will just say ‘we can pay for a PCSO’ and then where does it stop?
“As far as I am aware the police are not pulling out of the dodford funding and I would put on a considerable amount of pressure to have it.”
> For the full story, see the January 15 edition of the LBO.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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